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THE SONG OF SONGS, edited as a 
dramatic poem, with introduction, revised 
translation and excursuses. Cambridge 
University Press, 1913. pp. vii+156. 
Price I2S. net. 

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THE 68th psalm 


C. F. CLAY, Manager 









THE 68th psalm 








~|y/l"Y object in issaing tliis little book may be expressed in a 

very few lines. I believe that owing to the difficulties of 

this Psalm a great many people fail to understand it or fully to 

enjoy it, and my purpose is to make it intelligible and interesting. 

My plan, as in a former publication, is to give a general intro- 
duction and a revised translation, relegating all textual and 
critical discussions to a separate place at the end of the book. 
If my readers lay down the book with the feeling that they have 
gained a better comprehension of the meaning of the Psalm, and 
a higher enjoyment of its poetic beauty, I shall be well content. 

I wish to thank the Cambridge Press very heartily for the care 
and pains they have expended on the production of this work. 


Jidy 1922 










This vigorous poem — sung by the Jewish Church on the 
second day of Shabuoth (the feast of Weeks, the Harvest feast) 
and by the Christian Church on Whitsunday — is universally ad- 
mired, but it is certainly not generally understood. Attempts 
to fit it into its proper period and to assign to it its proper 
historical setting have been very numerous and astonishingly 
various in the conclusions arrived at. Every expositor has based 
his conclusions upon some statement or some phenomenon in 
the poem itself and this method is obviously the correct one. 
But the results of these efforts are sufficiently startling. The 
Psalm has been dated in almost every period from David to 
Alexander Jannaeus (died B.C. 81), that is, at various dates 
over a total extent of 1000 years. It will be convenient at the 
beginning of our work to set out in order some of these schemes 
of interpretation and to touch briefly on some of the reasons 
which have led to their adoption. Such an examination will at 
least have this value — it will bring out in clear relief the extra- 
ordinary difficulty of the task to which the present writer has, 
perhaps with too much rashness, committed himself. If there 
has been so much difference of opinion in the past, and if no 
scheme already set forth has entirely satisfied the writer, it must 
be because the Psalm itself is extraordinarily obscure and diffi- 
cult to explain. 

Dean Johnson^ assigns the Psalm to David, mainly on the 
ground of the title, and of the appearance of Zebulun and 
Naphtali in the procession described in the Psalm which (he 
thinks) indicates the period of the undivided monarchy. 

Bishop Perowne* is of the same opinion for similar reasons. 
He thinks the aUusion to "Kttle Benjamin their ruler" could 
only have been made very shortly after the death of Saul. 

Jennings and Lowe^ not without considerable hesitation, also 
assign the Psalm to David. 

Delitzsch* thinks the Psalm more in the manner of Asaph 

than of David. From the allusion to " the beast of the reed " 

he draws the conclusion that the Psalm was written towards 

1 SptaJur's Com. 1873, rv. 318. 2 Pgalms, 3rd ed. 1873, 

» Pialmt, 1877. * Picdmen, 5th ed. 1894. 

C. 1 


the end of the reign of Solomon. He thinks that the occasion 
celebrated in the Psalm is the return of the Ark from the cam- 
paign recounted in 2 Sam. xi. 

Hitzig^ ascribes the Psalm to the return from the (not very- 
triumphant) campaign of Jehoram and Jehoshaphat against 
Moab described in 2 Kings iii. 

Ewald^ assigns the Psalm to the period of the building and 
inauguration of the second temple (B.C. 516), being largely in- 
fluenced by the undoubted similarity of its prevailing thoughts 
with those of Is. xl-lxvi. 

Briggs' decides for the late Persian period when Persia and 
Egypt were at war, dr. B.C. 360-350. 

Hupf eld-No wack* think the Psalm had relation to some 
event in the battles in Palestine between the Ptolemies and the 
Seleucids. The wars between Ptolemy and Seleucus and their 
descendants lasted more than 100 years (B.C. 320-198). The 
particular event which was calculated to call forth such an 
outburst of religious joy is not identified by them. 

Reuss" chooses the same period, finding the Psalm pervaded 
by a deep feeling of sorrow and depression caused by the plunder 
and ill-treatment of the people of Palestine by the contending 
kings and their mercenary auxiliaries. 

Wellhausen* fixes the date at B.C. 167, connecting it with the 
great campaign of Judas Maccabeus across the Jordan described 
in 1 Mace. V. He thinks the orphans and widows and the forsaken 
are Jews dwelling in Bashan (v. 22, 1 Mace. v. 26). They are 
rescued by a Jewish army and, with the exception of some per- 
verse ones who prefer to dwell among the heathen, are brought 
back to Jerusalem. This very ingenious theory rests entirely on 
the mention of Bashan twice in the Psalm. 

Olshausen' thinks that the Psalm relates to some episode in 
the wars between Ptolemy Philometor and Alexander Balas (the 
supposed son of Antiochus Epiphanes) recounted in 1 Mace. xi. 
{dr. B.C. 150) in the time of Jonathan the Maccabee. 

» Ptalmen, 1865, vol. n. » Dichter des A. B. Part i. 2, 3rd ed. 1866. 

s Int. Crit. Com. Psalms, 1907. 

* Die Psalmen, Hupfeld, 3rd ed. by Nowack, 1888, vol. n. 
6 La Bible, v. p. 233. 

« The S. B. 0. T., Psalms, trans, by Prince. The Book of Psalms, trans, by 
Famess, 1898. ^ Psalmen, 1853. 


Dulun^, who according to liis usual method manipulates the 
text very freely, considers that this is one of the latest of the 
Psalms and that it celebrates and supports the undertakings of 
the bloodthirsty ruffian Alexander Jannaeus (B.C. 104-78). He 
gathers from the Psalm that it was written in a time when the 
Jews made war in Bashan, when they had "rebels" among 
them, when Sichem was subjugated, and when Gralilee was 
politically united to Judea. 

In view of this great variety of opinions, ranging over so 
long a period, so different and so destructive of each other, it 
might at first sight seem a hopeless undertaking to attempt to 
fix with any certainty the period and the occasion which called 
forth this Psalm. Yet perhaps the very difficulty of the enter- 
prise is an incentive to further effort. The Psalm is so striking, 
so peculiar, so different from other Psalms that it offers a per- 
petual challenge. If it can be made to give up its secret, it 
would repay almost any amount of effort. And it may be that, 
by examining the explanations which have already been pro- 
posed, we may obtain some Kghts which may guide our steps 
when we, at the last, turn from the schemes of the commentators 
and interrogate the Psalm itseK. 

We begin with some considerations which may tend to limit 
the area of possible attributions and so to confine the period 
within which the true date is to be sought for. So in the first 
place let it be considered whether the period of David and 
Solomon is compatible with the evidence or indicated by any 
phenomenon of the Psalm. 

(a) This Psalm regards the temple on Mount Sion not only 
as existing but as an object of veneration and a reason for 
tributary offerings from foreign kings. This thought excludes 
not only David as a possible author but also the Davidic period 
as a possible date for the Psalm to be written. At this period 
there was no temple, the Ark was kept in a tent (2 Sam. vi. 17, 
vii. 2)- and it is not conceivable that any kings of foreign 
countries would bring gifts there. Other but similar considera- 
tions make the period proposed by Delitzsch equally inappro- 

1 Psalmen, 1899. 

2 The word ^3^n, "temple" ot "palace," Is. ixxix. 7, P8. cxliv. 12, ootdd not 
refer to such a tent. " There is no proof that the word was ever used of this 
temporary structure." Perowne on Pa. v. 7. 



priate. Although there was at that time a temple of Jahveh 
in Jerusalem, it could hardly make a claim to the respect and 
to the gifts of neighbouring kings when standing near it were 
temples of their own deities, Chemosh, Moloch, Astarte and 
other gods (1 Kings vi. 5-7). At this period Jahveh was not 
thought of as universal but national, the God of Israel. When 
David was driven to take refuge in Moab he had left the inheri-« 
tance of Jahveh and felt bidden to '^ serve other gods" (1 Sam. 
xxvi. 20). While there he was in the land of Chemosh. The 
whole range of ideas underlying vv. 29 and 31 of the Psalm 
was quite foreign to the thought of the period of David and 
Solomon. These ideas could only become possible after the law 
of Deut. had been published and the reforms of Josiah had taken 
effect, nor perhaps even then until the conceptions of a universal 
God and of an exclusive central sanctuary had become rooted in 
the consciousness of the Judean community. 

(b) The title prefixed to the Psalm cannot be adduced as a 
proof of authorship. It is as follows^: "The Precentor's — David's — 
a song for the harp." If the Lamed here is to be taken as indi- 
cating authorship^ it would apply to the Precentor as much 
as to David, and being applied to both can hardly mean the 
authorship of either. The same combination with other descrip- 
tive words is prefixed to a large number of Psalms, and we 
also have "The Precentor's — Korah's sons'," "The Precentor's — 
Asaph's," at the head of many other Psalms. The explanation 
of these phenomena would seem to be that before the compila- 
tion and arrangement of the Psalter in its present form there 
were probably several collections or little Psalters known as 
" David's " containing Psalms of various dates which, at the 
time when these small Psalters were compiled, were supposed 
by the collector to have been composed by David. Upon what 
tradition or upon what conjecture this supposition was based 
we are not in a position to say. Presumably there were also 
similar small collections of Psalms known as "Korah's Sons'," 
"Asaph's" and so on^. At a later period a leading musician 
seems to have compiled for use in the Temple a "Precentor's 
Psalter," making use not only of the Psalters known as "David's" 

1 TK' liDTD nil'? n-VJp^. 2 See Ges. K. 129. c. 

' It would appear from 2 Chr. xxix. 30 that ' ' David's" and " Asaph's " Psalters 
were extant in the Chronicler's day. 


but of " Korah's," " Asaph's " and other sources, and indicating 
at the head of each Psalm the collection or source from which 
it was taken. This " Precentor's " Psalter formed the basis of 
the present Psalter and around it the final editor grouped all 
the materials collected by him, carrying on the old headings 
and marking what he took from the Precentor\ If this can be 
regarded as a reasonable explanation of the phenomena, the 
prefix means that the Psalm was comprised in one of "David's" 
Psalters from which it was transferred by the Precentor to his 
book. It cannot be taken as conclusive evidence of authorship if 
it be any real evidence at all, and the question of the period of 
the Psalm will have to be determined by other considerations. 

(c) It has been thought that the presence of "princes of 
Zebulun and princes of NaphtaH " in the procession described 
in this Psalm must fix its authorship in a period when Israel 
and Judah were politically united and therefore not later than 
the reign of Solomon*. Curiously, the same inference leads Duhm 
to fix the authorship in the very late period when Judah and 
Galilee were again politically united. We do not think that 
any such conclusions are to be drawn from this circumstance. 
After the fall of Samaria a large population must have remained 
in the old tribal seats of Israel. We do not know the number 
carried away by Tiglath Pileser (2 Kings xv. 29, 30), but we have 
an actual statement by Sargon of the extent of his deportation : 
"27,290 of its (Samaria's) inhabitants I carried into captivity... 
the rest of them I allowed to retain their possessions*." Of the 
large number who were left in the land there must have been 
many who desired to cleave to the worship of Jahveh and to 
frequent His sanctuary at Jerusalem*. We are not left to 
conjecture on this matter. The invitation of Hezekiah to the 
Northern tribes to attend the Passover was responded to by 
pious individuals from no less than five tribes — Asher, Manasseh, 
Zebulun, Ephraim and Issachar (2 Chr. xxx. 10, 18). Later, 
after the fall of Jerusalem, eighty pious men from Shechem, 
Shiloh and Samaria — all old sacred cities and rivals of Jem- 

1 See Driver, Introd. Ist ed. 359. Bobertaon-Smith, 0. T. Jew. Church, 
Lect. 7. Briggs, Psalms, i. Ixi, Ixiii, xcL Cheyne, Ptalms, 2nd ed. l Iv. 

* " Und halt una nicht v. 28 diesseit der Beichspaltungs feat?" Delitzsch,p.446. 

2 Schrader, Das A. T. u. die Keilins. 2nd ed. p. 272. Driver, Authority and 
Archceology, p. 101. * See Ewald, GeschichU, E. T. v. p. 97. 


salem — came in funeral garb to ofPer frankincense and mourn 
over her ruined temple (Jer. xli. 5-8). Men from Bethel, the 
former great metropolis of the calf- worship (Am. vii. 12 f .), who 
might have been thought to be steeped in idolatry, were carried 
captive by Nebuchadnezzar and returned with Zerubbabel (Ezra 
ii. 1, 2, 28; Neh. vii. 6, 7, 32). These men for long years kept 
a fast in the month of Ab in memory of the destruction of the 
temple and sent a deputation to the priests and prophets at 
Jerusalem to learn if they were to continue this mourning now 
that the temple was being restored (Zech. vii. 2-4). About the 
same time the Samaritans themselves approached Zerubbabel 
with a request that they might be allowed to participate in the 
building of the temple (Ezra iv. 1 f.). Ezekiel in his ideal recon- 
struction of Holy City, temple, and nation makes an allotment 
of territory to each of the twelve tribes (Ez. xlviii) \ At the 
inauguration of the temple twelve sacrifices were offered for all 
Israel according to the number of the tribes of Israel (Ezra vi. 
17). A Post-Captivity Psalm states as a well-known fact that 
the tribes of Jah go up to Jerusalem to praise the name of Jahveh 
(Ps. cxxii. 3, 4). Even later in the times of Herod a prophetess 
of the tribe of Asher was living in the temple (Luke ii. 36). 
These facts, which are probably typical of many others, render 
it neither unKkely nor incongruous that, at any time after the 
fall of Samaria, some pious men from Northern tribes should be 
seen walking in a sacred procession in Jerusalem. This fact had 
no political import, it was religious sympathy that brought these 
men of Northern tribes to the temple. There is nothing in this 
allusion to confine us to the time of Solomon. 

These considerations seem to make it unlikely if not impossible 
that this Psalm could be composed by David or in a Davidic 

Some of the above considerations will also apply to the 
suggestion of Hitzig that the Psalm celebrates the war of 
Jehoram and Jehoshaphat against Moab (2 Kings iii). There 
was not much in this event to call forth a Judean song of 
exultant joy. The campaign failed, the allies had to retreat, 
Moab was not subdued^. Is it to be supposed that the two 

1 See a sketch-plan of this ideal distribution of the land, Speaker's Com. 
vol. VI. p. 206. 

2 See Kittel, Gesch. 2nd ed. ii. p. 862. 


Mngs (one of them a worshipper of Baal), on their return from 
this unsuccessful exi)edition, joined in a joyous procession to 
the temple of Jahveh at Jerusalem ? It is not credible that 
at this period any poet of Judah could express a confident 
anticipation that, for the sake of the temple, kings would bring 
presents to Jerusalem. Mesha king of Moab ascribed the re- 
pulse of the allies to his national god Chemosh, and records 
that he had captured sacred vessels of Jahveh and dragged 
them before Chemosh\ Such an aspiration as the Psalm ex- 
presses was not possible in this age of hostile neighbours and 
national or tribal divinities. But apart from this difficulty the 
whole tone of the Psalm is quite inappropriate to the return 
from an expedition which if not disgraceful was entirely unsuc- 
cessful, to say nothing of the very curious fact that no allusion 
is made to the presence of either king. 

We now turn to the very late dates suggested by Olshausen 
and by Puhm which are not only improbable in themselves but 
most unlikely if not impossible for reasons arising out of the 
history of the Canon of Scripture. The period selected by 
Olshausen was one of confused war (with changing alliances 
and varying fortunes) in which Seleucid kings and satraps, 
the pretender Alexander Balas (d. B.C. 146), and Ptolemy 
Philometor were engaged*. It was a period of great success 
and prosperity to the Jews under Jonathan the Maccabean. 
This crafty and unscrupulous man had little of the religious 
fervour of his brother Judas. By courage and skill in war, by 
judiciously changing sides and selling himself to the highest 
bidder, he obtained not only the position of High Priest but of 
Governor of Judea and parts of Samaria. The restored Jewish 
state never enjoyed so strong and desirable a position as under 
Jonathan and his brother Simon who succeeded him as High 
Priest and Governor. But this period does not satisfy the 
religious aspirations of the Psalm. Could the Psalmist expect 
that Seleucid kings like Demetrius Nicator or Demetrius Soter 
would bring gifts to Jahveh for the sake of His temple at 
Jerusalem when there was actually a Seleucid garrison in the 

1 See lines 9, 14, 18, 19 of the Mesha stone in Bumej, Notes on Kings, 371 
and note, ib. 272. 

s See 1 Maco. x, xi Ewald, Gesch. E. T. v. 327 f. Wellhausen, Geseh. 
5th ed. pp. 270-4. 


citadel there ? Anything they or Ptolemy or Alexander offered 
to Jonathan had no religious object — it was to secure his 
services as a partisan leader. The poet could hardly have 
prayed " Rebuke the wild beast of the reed " when Ptolemy had 
been the ally of Jonathan. And a prayer that Jahveh would 
scatter people that delighted in war was not a likely aspira- 
tion at a time when such a description applied so perfectly to 
Jonathan himself. When the history of this period is examined, 
its atmosphere cannot be bi'ought into relation with the range 
of thought of this Psalm or with its religious hopes and visions. 

Similar considerations would apply with perhaps even greater 
force to the application of this Psalm by Duhm to Alexander 
Jannaeus (d. B.C. 81) and his warfare with Ptolemy Lathyrus 
and the Nabatean Arabs'. There is no trace of religious feeling 
or motive about this cruel and dissolute warrior, and through- 
out his career he was bitterly opposed by the Pharisees, the 
only party among the Jews of his time who were at all in 
harmony with the religious thought of this Psalm. Jannaeus 
was supported by the Sadducees^ but we are unable to think it 
possible that this fine religious poem could emanate from that 
cold, sceptical, and worldly school. 

But in fact these late dates of composition (B.C. 146 or 81) 
cannot be brought into harmony with well-known facts in the 
history of the Jewish Canon of Scripture. From the preface by 
Jesus the son of Sirach to his grandfather's book Bcclesiasticus 
(B.C. 132) it is certain that the Jewish Scriptures in their three 
divisions of the Law, the Prophets and " the other Books of the 
Fathers" had then been translated into Greek, and this implies 
a completed Canon to which no further writing could be added'. 
It is in any event certain that the complete Psalter, as we have 
it now, lay before the Greek interpreters and was translated by 
them^ For the Psalter in Greek is divided into the same five 
books as the Hebrew text, and the doxologies marking the ends 
of the first four books (Ps. xli. 14, Ixxii. 19, Ixxxix. 53, cvi. 48) 
are translated, as are the words at the end of book 2: "Ended 
are the hymns of David the son of Jesse." And when it was 

1 Ewald, op. eit. 368 f. Wellhausen, op. cit. 282-6. 

2 Wellhausen, p. 298 and n. 

» For the proof of this see Cannon, Song of Songs (Camb. 1913), pp. 80-82. 
* Comill, Einleit. 4th ed. p. 227. Steuernagel, Lehrbuch, p. 746. 


desired to add to the collection a Psalm which the translators 
believed to be by David himself it was not incorporated in the 
completed Psalter but placed at the end with a note stating 
that it was "outside the number," that is the traditional and 
recognized canonical number \ If a Psalm which they believed 
to be from the hand of David could not be taken into the 
sacred collection by these translators, the Hebrew Psalter at 
that time was not only complete but must have acquired what 
we can only call Canonical Authority and a sense of sanctity. 
It is simply incredible that a Psalm about Ptolemy and 
Alexander Balas, only just written, would be received into such 
a collection; it is absolutely impossible that a Psalm about 
Jannasus could be interpolated into it fifty years after the 
translation was completed. 

But this is not all. The Creek translators found this Psalm 
already provided with a title which, as we have seen, appears to 
have implied that it had formed part of " David's " Psalter and 
also of the " Precentor's " Psalter. It is true that they did not 
understand this title and translated it by a guess ■■^: but they 
had it before them here as in many other Psalms. Now a new 
Psalm written cir. B.C. 146 would not have been furnished in 
the Hebrew with such a title, as it could not have been included 
in either of the older Psalters referred to, still less in both — 
there was not time for the process. The fact that the Psalm 
has this heading shows that it was old enough to have its 
origin forgotten and to be «U;tributed to David- If its origin 
had been known to be as recent as B.C. 146 it would have been 
also known that it was not David's, and, if it had been trans- 
lated into Greek and added to the Psalter at all, it would 
certainly have been placed " outside the (canonical) number.'* 
These considerations would not appear to render impossible 
the presence in the Psalter of Psalms of the early Maccabean 
I)eriod, but they make it extremely unlikely that many will 
be found there'. It will be observed that the three Psalms 

^ OvTOS 6 \f»ikfioi ISioypa^oi els Aav2£ Kcd f^uSar roO ipidfiov Sre ifiowofiaxv^e ly 
To\iaS. See Konig, EinleiU p. 406. 

^ "Eii rhriKoi. ti} \avid ^aXfids (fdijs. See Cheyne, PiaZnu, 2iid ed. t, ixiviii. 
In Hab. iii. 19 the Greek translator made a different gaess, roO rucijaai, 

^ " Die Mehrzahl der Psalmen oder gar den ganzen Psalter aos den makkaba- 
ischeZeitherzuleiten ist eine ganz maasloseUebertreibung." ComiU, £inZeif . 226. 


which even by conservative critics^ are assigned to this period, 
Pss. xliv, Ixxiv, Ixxix'*, have no reference to David in their 
headings, and one only, xliv, is "Precentor's." It is also notice- 
,able that these three Psalms are not Maccabean, but Pre- 
Maccabean. They have no relation to the heroic deeds of 
Matthias and Judas, but (if they belong to this period at all) 
they depict the sorrowful times before the national upheaval, 
i.e. before B.C. 168. There was therefore just time for these 
Psalms to be taken into the Psalter before it was translated 
into Greek. It is however by no means certain that these 
Psalms belong to this period. They are equally appropriate to 
the terrible scenes which took place in Jerusalem and Judea 
under Artaxerxes Ochus, which we shall refer to in a subse- 
quent page. This is indeed a more likely date. 1 Mace. vii. 17 
quotes directly from Ps. Ixxix. 2, 3 as Scripture', which would 
hardly be likely if the Psalm was only just written. But 
whether or not there are in the Psalter a few Psalms of Pre- 
Maccabean date, we are satisfied for the reasons given above 
that the dates given by Olshausen and by Duhm to this Psalm 
are not possible. 

Setting aside then those periods which for various reasons do 
not seem possible dates, some others must now be considered to 
which those reasons do not apply. And first the opinion of 
Briggs that the Psalm belongs to the late Persian period, when 
Persia and Egypt were at war, about B.C. 360-350. We are 
quite unable to see in this war between Artaxerxes Ochus and 
the last Egyptian king Nectanebo* any event which would call 
forth a song of deliverance and hope from a Judean poet. 
What did it matter to the little intermediate state if Ochus was 
defeated in 351, or that he obtained a final victory over Egypt 
in 346 ? Neither event made much difference to the Jews, it 
was only a question who was to be their master. Syria could 
not be free while these great kingdoms existed. And indeed 
tradition assigns to this period events terrible to the Jews'. 
It is related that they joined in the revolt of Phenicia against 

1 Driver, Introd. Ist ed. p. 364. Perowne, Jennings and Lowe, etc, 

2 Wellhansen adds Pss. Ixxxiii and cxlix, Gesch. 238, n. 3. 

' See Cheyne, Psalms, 2nd ed. i. xx. 5, Ixii. 2. Kara rovi "Sdyovi oOj (ypa\p€v. 
* Maspero, Iff st. Anc. in. 750 f. Rawlinson, Monarchies, 4th ed. in. 609 f. 
« Ewald, Gesch. v. 206. Wellhausen, Gesch. 192. 


Ochus, and that as a punislmient a number of them were exiled 
to Hyrcania on the southern shore of the Caspian sea. It is 
further related^ that the Persian satrap Bagoses had a purpose 
to substitute for the High Priest Johanan his brother Jesus, 
that there was a quarrel in the temple, that Johanan slew 
Jesus, and that the Persian satrap pressed into the temple and 
oppressed the Jews and exacted a special tribute for seven 
years. No event in the reign of Ochus can be pointed to which 
can lead us to think of it as a time of rejoicing in Judea, or as 
suitable to produce a song of triumphant joy and hope. 

Even less satisfactory seems the theory of Hupf eld-Xowack 
and Reuss that the Psalm owes its origin to the conflicts of the 
Ptolemies and Seleucids for the possession of Palestine*. It is 
admitted that it is quite impossible to identify the particular 
event which called forth the song, and it is difficult in con- 
sidering this and some other theories to understand why the 
Jews should utter such a pjean of joy over victories in which 
they had no part and from which they had nothing to gain'. 
In the complicated series of events which happened in this 
lengthy struggle we find few which directly affected the Judean 
state. In the early stages of the war (B.C. 321) Ptolemy Soter 
took Jerusalem on the Sabbath day and carried away a large 
number of captives, who were subsequently restored by Ptolemy 
Philadelphus. But generally speaking the great battles and 
sieges of this war were far from Judea, and probably it did not 
matter much to the little state which of the great powers pre- 
vailed. The Jews had become accustomed to foreign rule and 
remained in the same condition when its name was changed. 
They bowed to the inevitable and did not seek to intervene on 
either side, satisfied if their little commonwealth remained un- 
disturbed. In this state of things it is hard to think that any 
victory obtained by either party could cause them much pleasure 
or call forth lyric expressions of joy. The early successes of 

1 Josephus, Ant. xi. 7. 1. It has been suggested (Hoonacker, Schweich Lectures, 
p. 43. Ewald, Geteh. v. 206) that this event took place under Artaxerxes Mnemon. 
But it seems more likely (see Wellhausen, Geich. 192) that the acts of oppression 
mentioned above have some relation to one another. 

' As to these wars see Dan. xi. 2-20, Jos. Ant. xn. 1-4, Ewald, op. dt. v. 
225 f., Wellhausen, op. eit. 228-23-5. 

3 "Wahrhch (es ist) kein Krieg bei welchem Israel selbstandig handelnd 
betheiligt gewesen ware." Eeuss (quot. Olshausen, Com. 286). 


the Ptolemies and the final triumphs of Antiochus were only 
interesting to the Jews as deciding who was to be their over- 
lord, and to whom they were to pay tribute. Victories in this 
war were not triumphs of Jahveh and His chosen people over 
His enemies, and there could be very little incentive to celebrate 
them in sacred song. The advocates of this date think that the 
Psalm expresses a spirit of misery and depression caused by 
the sufferings inflicted upon Judea by the hordes of mercenaries 
engaged in this war. We must confess to being unable to find 
this tone in the Psalm. The Psalms which describe sufferings 
endured in the times of Ochus or Antiochus Epiphanes know 
how to convey such an impression of misery, but surely this 
must be mainly regarded as a song of joy, and can hardly be 
attributed to any period on the basis of being a song of misery. 
For every reason, this is not a suitable or a likely period. 

No difficulties of this kind stand in the way of Wellhausen's 
date, which therefore merits careful examination. He states it 
thus : " The orphans and widows are the forsaken and prisoners, 
they are Jews dwelling apart among the heathen (in Bashan, 
vv. 15, 22) and oppressed by them, they are rescued by a Jewish 
army and, with the exception of some self-willed individuals 
who prefer to dwell among the heathen, are brought to Jeru- 
salem. The position is that of 1 Mace. v. IP." This date as we 
have seen is a possible one and the theory is very attractive, 
as it seems to connect the Psalm with a piece of authentic 
history. Unfortunately when examined this theory breaks down. 
According to the Psalm it is the enemies of God who are to be 
brought back from Bashan^. In v. 21, Grod will smite the head 
of His enemies. Then follows v. 22, in which the Lord declared 
" from Bashan I will fetch back, I will fetch them back from 
depths of the sea." Neither on the mountain heights of Bashan 
nor in the depths of the sea shall the enemies of God escape 
His vengeance. It is poetry, hyperbole, and not a reference to 
history. The passage is very like and is most probably remini- 
scent of a passage in Amos : 

If they dig through into Sheol from thence my hand will take them. 

And if they go up to the heavens from thence I will bring them down. 

^ Wellhausen-Furness, 191. 

2 «' Whoever wrote 2'*^ii IB'SD had in his mind a divine judgment against the 
foes of Israel." Cheyne, Psalms, i. 294. 


And if they hide themselves at the head of Carmel from thence I will 

search and take them. 
And if they conceal themselves from my eyes in the bed of the sea, 

there I will command the serpent to bite them. (Am. ix. 2, 3.) 

There is therefore no allusion to the campaign of Judas in 
Gilead — and the mention of orphans and widows, solitary ones 
and d&ptives, in the Psalm has nothing to do with Bashan — it 
should rather be regarded as expressing the general course of 
Divine Providence (like Ps. cxlvi. 7-9). We are therefore unable 
to see in this Psalm any allusion to the period of Judas the 
Maccabee or any indication that it was composed in that period. 

Having considered those various schemes put forward by 
expositors we now proceed to examine some phenomena of the 
Psalm itself which may shed further light on its origin and 

(a) It springs from some recent triumph over the enemies 
of Jahveh, which cannot mean anything else but the enemies 
of Jahveh's people — the Jews. God arises, His enemies disperse, 
HiR haters flee, they are driven like smoke, they melt like 
wax, the righteous rejoice. Deliverances of Jahveh's people 
in the past are thankfully recalled, deliverances in the desert of 
Sinai, in the wars of conquest, triumphal entries into Sion. 
God is to Its a, God of salvation — a Grod of deliverances — He will 
smite the head of His (our) enemies and bring them back from 
distant, inaccessible places for us to punish them. May God 
confirm what He has wrought for us. The majesty of God is 
over Israel. He gives strength and all power to the people (us) ! 

It seems quite certain that such thoughts are only appropriate 
to some triumph of Judah. Some success, some great advantage 
or blessing or deliverance from peril has happened to the com- 
munity of Jahveh, which is suitably acknowledged by a proces- 
sion to the temple on Sion. The words and thoughts of this 
Psalm are not satisfied by victories or triumphs of heathen 
powers in which Judah is more or less remotely interested. 
They are quite inappropriate to battles of Cambyses or Ochus 
against Egyptian or Phenician kings, or to wars between Ptolemy 
and Seleucus or their descendants. It can only be interpreted 
with success by reference to events which were real triumphs 
of Judah over foreign foes or domestic rebels — enemies of 
Jahveh and His people. It is in this way alone that we may 


hope to find a solution of its undoubted obscurities and diffi- 
culties. This dominant factor of interpretation — that the Psalm 
celebrates a triumph of Jahveh's people over Jahveh's enemies 
is likely to lead to much more fruitful results than the framing 
of systems based on casual or incidental allusions, some of 
which systems we have seen reasons for finding little suitable 
or satisfactory in themselves. 

(6) Further light on the Psalm may be gained from a 
peculiarity of its composition. " It is as if the poet felt himself 
incapable of producing so lofty a song entirely from his own 
power, since the finest and most powerful passages in it are (so 
to speak) an anthology taken from ancient songs, which partly 
we find already in the O.T. and partly we must conclude were 
once extant. The whole is rather put together out of a series of 
fine old passages than as a new work with a fixed plan, and 
since many of the old passages are very mutilated (probably 
because they are well known to the singers) the explanation is 
often difficult'." The following are the principal places which 
illustrate this system of composition''. There may be other 
allusions, but we regard these as certain: 

V. 1 quotes or is reminiscent of Num. x. 35. 




Deut. xxxiii. 26. 




Ex. XV. 3. 



Jud. V. 4, 5, 6. 
Hab. iii. 12. 








Jud. V. 16. 












Deut. xxxiii. 2. 




Num. X. 36. 




Hab. iii. 8. 




Hab. iii. 8. 




Num. xxiv. 17. 




Hab. iii. 13. 




Amos ix. 2, 3. 




Hab. iii. 6. 




Deut. XXX. 26. 




„ X.14. 



Dichter des A, 


3rd ed. i. 2. 417. 


As to Hab. 


see Hupfeld- 

Nowack, II. 135. 


It will be found when we examine them later that the quota- 
tions whose sources are unknown to us are like the others taken 
from various periods of national history. 

It will be observed that not only all the sources whose origin 
we can trace but also those extracts which are of unknown 
origin relate to triumphs or deliverances of Israel. The poet, 
whose mind seems to be full of these old songs, recalls in quota- 
tions the great deliverance from Egypt, the passage through 
the deseri;, wars with the Canaanites, the settlement of the 
tribes in their locations, the victories of David, the triumphant 
entry of the Ark into Sion, the oracle of Amos against the 
enemies of God, Habakkuk's lyric vision of vengeance on the 
Chaldeans. This is not a vain display of historical lore or a 
mere taste for quoting old national poetry. It has an object : 
the deliverances wrought by Jahveh in the past are meant to 
illustrate and lead up to the happy deliverance which the poet 
celebrates in the present. These citations of poetry aU bear out 
the central truth of our Psalm : 

God is to us a Grod of deliverances. 
God will smite the head of his enemies. 

as He did in the past. 

It does not satisfy this historic background any more than it 
suits the present joy of the Psalm to bring it into relation with 
conflicts of foreign kings. It must, like these great Ijrric odes of 
the past, celebrate a triumph of some kind for Jahveh's people 
over His (and their) enemies. It is more than ever apparent 
how precarious every scheme of interpretation must be which 
rests upon some det-ail in an ancient and obscure quotation. 
Thus Wellhausen's theory rests entirely upon two allusions to 
"Bashan," one of which is quoted from an old lost song, and 
the other occurs in a paraphrase of a stanza in Am os. Duhm^ 
collects from an old lyric fragment about " snow on Salmon " 
the somewhat extensive deduction that the Psalm must have 
been written at a time when Shechem had been subjugated by 
Judea. Such inferences would perhaps not have been drawn 
had it been better remembered that the poet was quoting 
snatches from old ballads. 

Of old forgotten far oflf things 
And battles long ago. 
^ Psalmen, p. 174. 


and in which the sense of many allusions has been obscured hy 

(c) The author of this Psalm moved in the same range of 
ideas and was animated by the same glowing hopes as Deutero- 
Isaiah and the Post-Captivity Prophets. Thus : 

(1) The great Captivity Prophet uttered in several places a 
call to " cast up " in the desert a highway for Jahveh and His 
people to return to Sion (Is. xl. 3, Ivii. 14, Ixii. 10, cf. xxxv. 8). 
This is echoed by the Psalmist (using the same verb) : 

Cast up a highway for him who rides through the deserts, v. 4. 

(2) The prophet dwells on the goodness of God in releasing^ 
prisoners out of captivity (Is. xlii. 7, xlix. 9, Ixi. 1) and the 
Psalmist utters the same idea : 

He leads out prisoners into prosperity, v. 6. 

(3) The prophet in lyric rapture foresees the services of 
foreign kings to the restored community and the continued 
flow of the wealth of all nations to Sion the city of Jahveh 
whose gates shall be open day and night to receive this wealth 
and the homage of kings (Is. xlix. 22, Iv. 5, Ix. passim). So 
Haggai had prophesied that the desirable things of all nations 
should come to the restored temple (ii. 2) and Zechariah that 
the wealth of all the heathen round about Jerusalem should be 
gathered together (xiv. 14). In the same spirit our Psalmist writes : 

For the sake of thy temple which is over Jerusalem 
To thee shall kings bring gifts, v. 29. 

(4) The prophet foresaw embassies from Egypt and Kush 
(Ethiopia) arriving at Jerusalem with gifts, and worshipping 
Jahveh with sacrifices and vows (Is. xviii. 7, xix. 21, xlv. 14). 
The Psalmist has the same vision : 

In haste will men come from Egypt ; 

Kush will qmckly stretch forth her hand to God. i?. 31. 

The Psalm in fact contains " joyiul outpourings of the cheerful 
mood, filled with a wide outlook, of those days of a temple 
renewing its youth, a clear echo of the great prophetic voice, 
Is. xl-lxvi\" The Psalmist, inspired by and echoing such 
ideals, must have lived in a period when they were still operative 
and seemed likely to be realised, a time of hope, not a time 
of despair, a time when a deliverance had recently been ex- 
perienced, and when a bright future could still be anticipated. 
1 Ewald, Dichter, i. 2. 416. 



The consideration of all the phenomena we have jnst passed 
in review leads to the conclusion that the Psalm celebrates 
some happy event which occurred in the reconstruction of the 
Jewish community after the first return from exile in Babylon. 
This is in general the view of Ewald who suggests that the 
Psalm was composed for the consecration of the restored temple 
and sung on that occasion. This view is not in itself unlikely, 
but there is nothing to support it in the very meagre record we 
possess of the ceremony on this occasion (Ezra vi. 16, 17), the 
only details mentioned being sacrifices on a large scale, no 
allusion being made to any procession or to festal music. Now 
later on in the history (Neh. xii), in the period of Ezra Nehemiah 
and Artaxerxes Longimanus, we have a detailed account of a 
procession with music and song on the occasion of the inaugura- 
tion of the walls of Jerusalem. As we think this the most likely 
period for the composition of our Psalms we propose to examine 
this subject in some detail. 

The Chaldeans had made a thorough and systematic destruc- 
tion of the walls and gates of Jerusalem (Jer. li. 13, Lam. ii. 8, 
9). The effect of this was almost to prevent her from being a 
city at all. "A town in antiquity first became a town in the true 
sense of the word when she obtained her walls \" The returned 
Jews had no security in their city against open enemy or secret 
traitor, they could not enforce the prescriptions of their sacred 
law or keep out undesirable heathens. To the Prophet of the 
Captivity a walled city was to be looked forward to — " Aliens 
shall build thy walls," "Thou shalt call thy walls Salvation 
and thy gates Praise " (Is. Ix. 10-18) — and a pious writer adding 
an appendix to an older Psalm voiced the aspiration of many 
hearts as he cried : 

Be pleased to shew kindness to Sion : 
Build the walls of Jerusalem (Ps. IL 20)'. 

Animated by such feelings the Jews, some time before the 
twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus (B.C. 445), began to 
build the walls and dig out the foundations (Ezra iv. 12). 
Complaints were made to the Persian king by his ofiicials 
Rechum and Shimshai and the work was ordered to be stopped 
(Ezra iv. 12 f.). It appears that the work done up to that time 
on the fortifications was destroyed, the gates burned, and the 
1 Stade, GeschichU, n. 160. » See Cheyne, P$alm$, i. 230. 

C. 2 


old ruins of the walls which still remained levelled to the ground 
(Ezra iv. 23, Neh. i. 3). This was effected by the Persian officials 
who came in haste to Jerusalem with an army^ for the purpose. 
Such was the sorrowful news brought to Nehemiah at the Court 
of Susa by his brother, and the building of these walls was from 
that day the preoccupation of his life. It is almost the only 
theme of the memoirs written by himself (Neh. i-vii. 5, xii. 27- 
xiii. 31). Backed by the power of the Great King and helped by 
the grants of timber from the royal forests he went to Jerusalem 
and began bravely on the work. The physical difficulties were 
very great (Neh. ii. 14, iv. 2), and in addition he had to face a 
formidable opposition from a confederation of heathen enemies 
backed by traitors in the city. 

At the head of this combination was Sanballat of Beth-horon, 
a heathen of Assyrian origin ^ This man not only occupied a 
most important strategic position, but his territory formed an 
enclave in the middle of the territory occupied by the Jews'. 
His very presence there was an annoyance and a danger. With 
him was a contingent from Ashdod. We do not know how far 
this city had recovered since its conquest by Psammetichus who 
is said to have besieged it for 29 years* (B.C. cir. 630). Jer. (xxv. 
20) speaks of it as " the remnant of Ashdod." Many of the Jews 
had married Ashdodite wives and the children spoke half in the 
speech of Ashdod and could not speak in the Jews' language 
(Neh. xii. 23, 24)'. So whatever the population of Ashdod was, 
they were in a position to supply open combatants and secret 

Other contingents came from over the Jordan. Tobiah, who 
seems to have been a freed slave elevated to be a Persian 
official*, brought a body of men from Ammon. They were old 
enemies of Israel. They had made raids into Palestine and 

* ^!01 ^7^?- See Oettli, Com. Nehemiah, pp. 176-7. Wellhausen, Gesch. 
173-4. "Daas die Mauer auf Befehl des Artaxerxes selber zerstort sei lasst sich 
schwer glauben da Neh. von einem solchen Befehl nichts weiss." 16. n. 2. 

2 The name is Assyro-Baby Ionian, SinbalUt (Sin— the moongod— gives life). 
Schrader, Die Keilins. uvd das A. T. 2nd ed. 382. The LXX. Sai-o^aWar seems 
to be the correct form, ib. 

3 Stade, Gesch. n. 112 and the map. * Herod, n. 157. 
' See Macalister, Philistines, p. 66. 

6 12Vn .T3it3, Neh. ii. 10, 19. Ewald, Gesch. v. 153. 


been driven back by Ehud (Jud. iii. 13), Jepbthah (Jud. x. 8f.), 
Saul (1 Sam. xi), David (2 Sam. viii. 12) and Jotham (2. Chr. 
xxvii. 5). Amos denounces them for atrocious cruelty in Gilead 
in order to extend their territory (Am. i. 13, see Zeph. ii. 9). 
And Ezekiel in distant exile heard of their shouts of joy over 
the ruined temple, the desolate land and the captive people 
(Ez. XXV. 3). At the time of the fall of Jerusalem they were 
occupying the whole territory of the tribe of Gad (Jer. xlix. 1), 
and after that event their king had instigated one Ishmael to 
murder the governor Gedaliah, and had found him refuge when 
he had done so (Jer. xl. 14, xli. 16). Tobiah was the more 
dangerous because of his connections in Jerusalem, both he 
and his son having Jewish wives and keeping up a corre- 
spondence with Jewish nobles (Neh. vi. 17). Further, some of 
the Jews had married Ammonite wives (Neh. xiii. 23), so that 
the danger of secret treachery was very serious. 

Lastly, Grashmu, an Arab Sheik, brought a force of Bedawin 
Arabs from the South or East, a race who were always ready for 
any opportunity of war or plunder. The Arabians were at this 
time a growing power, having tiriven the Edomites from their 
seats in Petra and elsewhere by the time of Malachi (i. 1-5) \ 
They were in a position to inflict much injury on Judea. 

Out of these various but dangerous elements was formed 
" the Army of Samaria " (Neh. iii. 34) ; " And they all conspired 
together to go and make war against Jerusalem" (Neh. iv. 2). 

The danger was great and the task of Nehemiah seemed 
wellnigh impossible. He had to face an army, to guard against 
treachery among his own people, and all the while to carry on 
the very toilsome work of building the wall. But his faith and 
courage prevailed against enemies and traitors. He took sound 
military measures to guard against attack or surprise — the 
builders worked under arms — plots to terrify him or seize his 
person failed. His example and his personality inspired the 
people to keep the work going without interruption. The wall 
was finished in fifty-two days, the gates were fixed and guarded, 
and Sanballat and his motley army quitted the scene, having 
accomplished nothing. 

It was a great achievement and an event of much importance 
to Judea. For seventy years the restored community had had 
1 Enc. Bib. art. Nabatheans. 



no security against enemies or traitors or heathen immigrants. 
Now the city was safe. It had an extended boundary^ and an 
increased population. Every tenth man had to come from the 
country into the town, and many upon whom the lot did not 
fall came of their own accord. The building of the wall 
inspired fear in their enemies and respect in the surrounding 
nations. But to Ezra and Nehemiah and the pious men of the 
nation the wall meant more than this. It aiforded a chance of 
enforcing the sacred law with greater strictness. While heathen 
foreigners of every sort could come and go as they liked, forming 
friendships and intermarrying with Jewish families, a laxity of 
practice amounting almost to apostasy was likely to spring up. 
Some facts which occurred soon after this time will illustrate 
the importance of the city being walled. The Ammonite Tobiah 
had actually been given a room within the temple to live in. 
Nehemiah turned him and his furniture out, and was in a 
position to keep him out (Neh. xiii. 8). A grandson of the 
High Priest Eliashib had married a daughter of Sanballat of 
Beth-horon. Nehemiah drove him out of the town (ih. v. 28). 
The Sabbath was not strictly kept; it had become a market 
day on which country people and Tyrian hucksters brought 
their wares to the city. Nehemiah shut the gates of the city 
from Friday evening to Sabbath evening and stopped this 
profane traffic (ib. vv. 19 f.). In these and no doubt many other 
cases the walling in of the city made it possible to keep heathen 
influences away from the people, and as the Jewish saying ■ 
expresses it " to make a hedge round the Law." 

The joy of the people at the happy completion of the wall 
and the gates found expression in a festal procession of which 
the Governor in his memoirs has left this account : 

And at the initiation ^ of the Wall of Jerusalem they sought out the 
Levites from all their places to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the 
initiation and joy-feast with praise-choirs, song, cymbals, lyres and harps. 
And the sons of the singers were assembled from the plain round Jerusalem 
and from the villages of the Netophathites and from Beth-Gilgal and from 
the fields of Qeba and Asmaveth, for the singers had built themselves 
villages around Jerusalem. And the Priests and the Levites purified them- 

^ Stade, Gesch. ii. 167 and the map. 

2 n3^n means the bringing into use of a new thing, as Dent. xx. 6, Ps. xxx. 


selves and purified the people and the Gates and the WalL And I brought 
the Princes of Judah up on the Wall, and I established two great praise- 
choirs and processions' [the first went] to the right on the Wall towards 
the dung (gate). And behind went Hoshiah and half the Princes of Judah, 
and Aaariah Ezra and Meshullam Judah and Benjamin and Shemaiah and 
Jeremiah. And some of the sons of the priests with trumpets [list of 
names] — and his brothers [more names] with song-instruments of David ^ 
the man of God, and Ezra the scribe in front of them. And over the 
Well Gate straightforward they mounted the steps of the City of David 
by the steps up the wall over David's house to the Water Gate eastward. 
And the second praise-choir went the opposite way and I and half the 
people went after them upon the Wall over the Furnace Tower and as far 
as the Broad Wall, and over the Ephraim Gate and as far as the Old Gate 
and over the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel and the Hundred 
Tower and as far as the Sheep Gate, and they stopped at the Prison Gate. 
Then the two praise-choirs took their stand in the House of Grod — so did 
I and half the prefects with me. And the priests [names] with trumpets, 
and [more names] and the singers uttered sound and Israchiah was the 
conductor. And great sacrifices were otfered that day and men rejoiced 
because God had given them great joy — also the women and children 
rejoiced, and the joy of Jerusalem was heard far and wide (Neh. xii. 27-43). 

We suggest tliat the author of Psalm Ixviii was one of the 
men that rejoiced, and that he was an eye-witness of this 
ceremony at the point where the two praise-choirs met and 
entered the temple. In v. 24 he says that men (he and others in 
a crowd) saw the processions of God into the sanctuary, and he 
uses the plural because there were two processions. This imposing 
sight and the thought of recent perils and recent deliverances 
led him to reflect on other deliverances celebrated in ancient 
song. Thus came the inspiration of this noble poem, which was 
to be a worthy memorial of a day never to be forgotten, perhaps 
the greatest day Judea had experienced since Zerubbabel and 
the first returning exiles had entered the ruined city. 

Brief as is the reference to the procession in the Psalm we 
hope to show in a later page that it has many points of contact 
with the detailed story of Nehemiah. But here we would rather 
lay stress on this one notable feature. The Psalm must have 
been written on the occasion of a real important procession', 

1 nb^r)?, lit. "goings," equivalent to nia'pn, Pg. Ixviii. 29, Hab. iii. 6. 
The routes of the two processions are shown on the map. Stade, Gesch. ii. 112. 

2 Comp. Amos vi. 5. 

* See Olshauaen, Hupfeld-Nowack and Briggs, Comms. on v. 2-t. 


and here is an actual important procession at a period suitable 
to the thoughts and ideas of the Psalm, and on an occasion of 
sufficient importance to warrant Ijrric celebration. On the only 
other occasions at this period worthy to be so celebrated, the 
foundation stone lajring of the temple (Ezra iii. 8-13) and its 
consecration (Ezra vi. 16, 17), there is no mention of any pro- 
cession. On this occasion there is, and we seem here to have 
something more than a mere coincidence. Both documents 
belong to the same period, both are full of gratitude for 
deliverance, and pervaded by joy and hope, both find the 
expression of their joy in the description of a procession which 
certainly took place. It is surely not unreasonable to think 
that it is the same procession. Such a view has at least this 
advantage over some other schemes — it rests on a historic 
fact. We do not postulate a hypothetical procession deduced 
from the words of the Psalm, but we deal with one which really 
took place and of which we have good contemporary evidence 
that it is a fact, and we cannot help feeling that we can explain 
the Psalm with much more confidence when we are able to 
base our comments on a historic event as a starting point. 

The dating of the Psalm, dr. B.C. 445, receives support from 
some considerations of an entirely different character from those 
which we have been discussing — those arising out of the history 
of the period. The rule of the earlier Achaemenid kings over 
Judea was on the whole a mild one. There were taxes it is true 
(Neh. V. 4), but we do not hear at this time of oppression. 
Above all there was peace and protection from Egypt. The 
Jews enjoyed for about two hundred years the peace and 
repose which had been established for this part of the Persian 
Empire through the subjugation of Egypt by Cambyse8\ And 
Artaxerxes had been specially kind both to Ezra (Ezra vii. 
11-26) and to Nehemiah. Without his support and his gifts 
the walls would never have been rebuilt. No Jew of this period 
could have wished to see his mild and beneficent rule displaced 
by that of Egypt. But in 460 there had been a most serious 
revolt of Inaros an Egyptian king, assisted by Athenian fleets 
and armies, against the rule of the Great King. Many reverses 
were sustained by the Persian forces, and it was only by 

1 See Holtzmann, supp. Stade, Gesch. ii. 273. 


immense armaments and after long drawn out fighting that 
the supremacy of Persia was restored (B.C. 455). Athens ceased 
for the time to be a danger by the Peace of Callias (449), but 
no one could say when trouble with Egypt and other Greek 
auxiliaries might break out again \ It was natural in 445 in 
view of these wars and the possibility of their recurrence that 
a Jewish poet grateful to Artaxerxes, and not wishing to see 
his rule disturbed by a conflict which might involve Judea, 
should utter from his heart the prayers: Rebuke the loild beast 
of the reed (Egypt), the company of bulls, lords of peoples (the 
leaders of Greek or Ionian mercenaries). Scatter the people 
that delight in war. Such wars might mean not only trouble 
for the Persian king but more serious troubles for Judea, and 
Eg3rpt at this time seemed the only menace to peace in Syria 
and Palestine. But 100 years later, the date suggested by 
Briggs'', a Jewish poet could hardly have taken this point of 
view. Ochus was a cruel and sanguinary tyrant', and had 
dealt very savagely with the Jews who had sided with his 
enemies- His satrap had robbed and oppressed Jerusalem for 
seven years. His character and conduct were not such as to 
rouse in a Jewish mind an aspiration that his enemies should be 
rebuked and scattered. The Jews would probably not have 
been very sorry if the icild beast of the reed had triumphed 
over Ochus. Their feelings towards him must have been very 
different from those with which they regarded Artaxerxes. 
And so while the tone of the Psalm is suitable to the historic 
atmosphere of 445 it is repugnant to that of 360-350 or of any 
later period. 

In view of the foregoing considerations, of which one Hue 
relates to the occasion of the Psalm and the other to its period, 
we shall base our exposition on the view that it was composed 
on the occasion of the procession of 445. We trust that when 
the words of the Psalm are examined in detail they will not be 
found inappropriate to the event they are assumed to celebrate 
or to the general history of the time. We shall endeavour to 
avoid one peril which we think has sometimes led to unfortunate 

^ See for these events Maspero, Hist. Ane. m. 750 f., Bawlinson, Monarehiet, 
m. 472-5. ' Vide p. 10, tup. 

' "He is indeed the only monarch of the Achaemenid line who appears to 
have been bloodthirsty by temperament." Bawlinson, ni. 508. 


consequences in the explanation of the Psalm, that is, we must 
avoid drawing inferences about events in the Psalmist's own 
time from the words of his quotations of old songs. If we are 
satisfied that any passage is a quotation from a poem — especially 
where we cannot trace its source — it is not evidence of any fact 
supposed to have happened in the history of the Psalmist's 
period. We may explain, if we can, what the quotation refers 
to, what its date is, and all such matters. We may, indeed we 
ought, to enquire what led the Psalmist to quote it or how it 
illustrates his line of thought and way of looking at things; 
but it must not be used as evidence that the events which it 
narrates or seems to refer to happened in 445 or any other date 
when the Psalm was written. The writer does not think it 
superfluous (especially in view of the methods of some recent 
.expositors) to state that he has not consciously manipulated 
the text in order to accommodate it to his theory of interpreta- 
tion. He trusts that his " Critical Notes " will show that while 
he has endeavoured to make full use of the evidence or, where 
that fails, of the best conjectural emendations, his judgment on 
readings may be unsound, but it is not based on any desire to 
frame a text to suit his theory of the date of the poem. In the 
same way he has not made any attempt to get rid of portions 
of the text which cause difficulties in interpretation by striking 
them out as "glosses" or as "insertions by editors in the 
original text\" Not only does he consider this process unsound, 
but in this poem it seems quite unnecessary. With the exception 
of the quotations he has found no passage which cannot be 
reasonably explained either by reference to the history of the 
period postulated or to the prophetic ideas and visions then 
current. He has sufficient confidence in his theory to interpret 
the whole poem in the light of it, and does not propose to cut 
out any part as defying explanation. 

AifALTSis OF Psalm lxviii. 

{Observation. The numbers of the verses in our revised translation and 
throughout the book are those of the EngUsh A. V. which differs from the 
Hebrew by one verse throughout, as the Hebrew makes the title v. 1. 
Quotations are from our revised translation, for the basis of which see the 
" Critical Notes.") 

' See Appendix I. 


w. 1-6. Exjyression of Joy in the present deliverance, and cele- 
bration of the kindness of Jahveh as displayed in the dealings of 
His Providence. 

The walls were finislied, the gates were hung and confided 
to trustworthy guardians, and the inauguration ceremony had 
been held. " And it happened that when all our enemies heard 
this then all the Heathen around us were afraid and very much 
cast down and they knew that from our God this work was 
wrought" (Neh. vi. 16). The poet with these happy events in 
his mind recalls the old song, " Arise O Jahveh and let thine 
enemies be scattered and let those that hate thee flee before 
thee" (Num. x. 31). But it is not prayer now, it is fulfilment. 
God has arisen, the army of Samaria is dispersing, and the 
haters of Grod — the heathen Sanballat, the slave Tobiah, the 
Bedawin Grashmu — are no longer te be feared. The opposing 
forces are driven away like smoke and melted like wax. It is to 
be noted that the Psalmist does not describe victory in battle 
but the dispersal and discomfiture of the heathen allies. He had 
seen with intense relief the Ashdodites marching to the coast, 
and the Ammonites and Arabs retreating across the Jordan, 
and their treacherous connections in the city rendered harm- 
less: the combination of the wicked had perished. So it is now 
a time for the righteous to rejoice and exult and to sing before 
God — as they did in the recent procession. Let God come to the 
city He has made safe. Cast up a highway for Him proceeds 
the poet, using the expression of Deut.-Isaiah. Let Him come 
riding through the deserts as, in the old song (Deut. xxxiii. 25), 
He is thought of as riding over the heavens. Then there comes 
into the poef s mind the great deliverance from Egypt long ago 
and he quotes the ancient song of triumph, " Jahveh is a man 
of war, Jahveh is His name " (Ex. xv. 3). From deliverances in 
peril and distress, present and past, the poet is led to reflect on 
the general ways of God's Providence and His kindly care of the 
helpless and miserable. It is not any special event that is alluded 
to but the habitual course of His dealings with men. He is 
a father to those who have no father, a judge of widows, who 
have no man to protect them, bringing solitary ones to dwell in 
a home (as Ps. cxiii. 9) and prisoners into prosperity. Such is 
His goodness to the afflicted, but as to rebels (and there are 
such in the city, Neh. vi. 17, 18) they must dwell in a land of 


drought. This is not meant to be taken literally as of Bashan 
or any other locality but metaphorically, like the similar expres- 
sion, "a dry and thirsty land without water" (Ps. Ixiii. 1). 
When God sends a generous rain on His inheritance (v. 9) 
it will not refresh those who rebel against Him. Such, the 
poet joyfully declares, are the habitual ways of the Divine 

This section, which does not present any great difficulty in 
interpretation, strikes the note for the whole Psalm — a note of 
deHverance and joyfulness. It gives no support to those exposi- 
tors (notably Reuss) who regard the Psalm as containing an 
atmosphere of misery and depression. The cheerful view of the 
dealings of Providence which the poet expresses would hardly 
have sprung from a heart bowed down by oppression and wrong. 
And this joyful opening of the Psalm is thoroughly in harmony 
with the burst of triumph ivv. 31-35) with which it closes. 

vv. 7-18. Retrospective view of God^s mighty works for His 
people in the past, with qtwtations from old national songs. 

This section of the Psalm displays a very curious and peculiar 
mode of composition. Quotations from various sources are inter- 
spersed with original verses by the author, often without any 
apparent connecting links. All is historical and has no relation 
to facts in the author's day. The idea of deliverance and triumph 
runs through all and is the only guide to the meaning. The task 
of the expositor must be to examine these quotations and en- 
deavour to ascertain their historical settings and the events to 
which they relate, and then (a more difficult enterprise) to 
search out from the author's own verses the transitions and 
lines of thought which bind together these apparently disjointed 
fragments into a consistent unity. 

V. 7. The poet begins this part of his poem with a quotation 
from the great song of Deborah to remind his readers of the 
signal deliverance of that period. The original runs — 

Jahvek when thou didst go forth from Seir, 

When thou didst advance from the field of Edom ; 

Earth trembled moreover ^Heavens dropped water, 

Moreover clouds dropped water ; 

Mountains shook before Jahveh, 

Yonder Sinai before Jahvek, IsraeVs God. (Jud. v. 4-6.) 


The words in italics are the parts of the passage of which our 
poet made use, and the reasons of his omissions may without 
diflBculty be conjectured. Deborah embodied in her song the 
old belief that Jahveh had come from His seat in Sinai through 
Edom and thus led the people to Palestine. Similarly in the 
" Blessing of Moses " it was said : 

Jahveh came from Sinai, 

And shone on them from Seir ; 

He shone forth from Mount Paran. (Deut. xxJoiL 2.) 

and Habakkuk in the same sense has : 
God came from Teman, 
And the Holy One from Mount Paran. (Hab. iiL 3.) 

These passages taken together certainly show that there was 
such a tradition of a march through Edom current at various 

Our poet has later histories in his hands not containing this 
view of the route of the Exodus, so he does not copy this part 
of the ancient song. His sources do allude to the tremendous 
happenings of the Theophany at Sinai (Ex, xix. 16-18, Deut. 
iv. 11, V. 22), so he quotes that portion, but otherwise, without 
indicating in detail the route of the progress, he uses the words 
of the old poem to describe the triumphal march of God's 
people through the wilderness with God before them.. The word 
" wilderness " is perhaps reminiscent of another old song : 

He foimd him in a desert land 

And in a waste, a howling vnldemess-. (Deut. xzxiL 10.) 

V. 9. But the Divine care did not cease when the people 
arrived in Palestine. God supplied their needs. A generotLS rain 
might refer to literal rain as in Ps. Ixv. 10, 11, or it might be 
used as in Ps. Ixxviii. 24, 27 : 

He made manna rain upon them for food... 

He made it rain flesh upon them b'ke the dust 

And winged fowl Uke sand of the seas 3. 

But the parallelism of the verse rather leads to the view that 
a general sense of Divine protection and Providential care is 
what the poet means to express. Thy community dwelt in it, 

» Kittel, Geich. 2nd ed. i. 504-7. Bnmey, Judge$, 109. 
» fCfff^^ 7?^ '"^021, the same word as in the Psalm. 
' See Enpfeld-Nowack, ad loe. 


that is, "in thine inheritance." A very simple statement, but 
full of significance to the poet. No doubt he would recall the 
glowing words of national poets describing the happiness of the 
nation settled and secure by the aid of its Grod in its fertile 
Palestinean home (Deut. xxxii. 13, 14, xxxiii. 28). But more 
than this is meant. The poet had seen the arrival of Ezra and 
his caravan of returning exiles at Jerusalem after a journey 
across the desert full of privations and perils and lasting four 
months (Ezra vii. 9, viii. 31). The old history was repeated. 
Once again as in the ancient days Grod had gone before His 
people through the wilderness, and when His inheritance was 
weary He had strengthened it with new leaders and an accession 
of population. Now, as of old, His community were dwelling in 
His inheritance. 

The poet does not express what it is which God in His goodness 
prepares for the afflicted. The same word^ is used absolutely (as 
here) in 1 Chr. xii. 39 in the sense of " preparing (a table)," but 
this sense is not suitable here. Ewald suggests " this favoured 
land," which is not unsuited to what has gone before. But the 
indefiniteness of the phrase seems rather to express the general 
goodness of Divine Providence. Both in the old days and in the 
days of the restoration from exile Grod prepared for the afflicted 
what they needed. 

V. 11. This fine ringing passage is a quotation from an un- 
known song of victory. It contains no feature to fix its date, 
but on the whole we are inclined to think that it relates to one 
of David's campaigns. When the Lord gave the word to enter 
into the war (see Grit. Note) it may well have been a favourable 
response to enquiry at the sacred oracle (1 Sam. xxiii. 2, 2 Sam. 
V. 19, 23, Ps. XX. 6). The women who brought good tidings re- 
calls some such scene as this: "When David returned from 
smiting the Philistines, the women came out from all cities of 
Israel with song and dances... with timbrels, with joy and with 
triangles, and the women answered and said as they danced 

Saul smote his thousands, 

And David his tens of thousands." (1 Sam. xviii. 7.) 

The fair one at home who divided spoil may be illustrated by 
the words attributed to the mother of Sisera (Jud. v. 30), and 

1 «»3n. 


by the praise which David in his great elegy gives to Saul — 
that he clothed Israelite girls with scarlet and adorned them 
with golden ornaments (2 Sam. i. 24). It is not difficult to under- 
stand why the poet introduced this quotation. Prominent in 
his thought must have been the retreat of the army of Samaria 
with its heathen chiefs — and the joy of the recent procession. 
The passage from the old song was very suitable to both these 
joyful topics. Nor was the transition from v. 10 a violent one — 
such were the good gifts which God prepared for the community 
who dwelt in His inheritance. 

V. 13. It is very difficult to form a satisfactory opinion about 
this much-discussed passage. It cannot be a direct quotation 
from Jud. v. 16 — the language is too divergent — and yet it seems 
to be under the influence of that verse both in the form of ex- 
pression and in the identity of the idea conveyed. The song of 
Deborah rebuked the inactivity of some tribes across the Jordan 
and on the sea coast who, in safety themselves, were indifferent 
to the perils of their brethren : 

By Reuben's streams* great were the searchings of hearts. 
Why didst thou sit still among the sheepfolda 
Listening to the bleatings of flocks ? (Jud. v. 15, 16.) 

In a similar line of thought our passage has : 

"Did you lie among the sheepfolds watching the white doves 
shining in the golden sunlight when your nation was fighting 
for its very existence?" "The admiration here expressed of the 
doves' plumage is at once an imitation of these men's usual talk 
and sarcasm at the things in which they found satisfaction while 
others were engaged in war^." 

There is obviously some connection between the two passages, 
and two views as to what that connection may be are possible. 
Verse 13 may be a quotation from a song of the same period as 
Jud. V, written under its influence and describing the feeling 
of resentment at the conduct of certain tribes, which was deep 
and general (see Jud. v. 23). Or it may be that our poet, conscious 
of similar conduct in his own day and always ready to refer to 
old national poetry, expressed his feelings in a verse partly 

^ Bumey, Jud.p. 104, reads "(Utterly reft) into factions was Reuben," supplying 
eonjecturally a verb. But the translation in the text is supported by Job zz. 17. 
' Hupfeld-Nowack, ad loc. 


original and partly a reminiscence of Jud. v. 16, both in language 
and thought. We think the latter is the more likely view, and 
it does not seem very difficult to understand why the poet intro- 
duced this verse, and why he wished to sound this discordant 
note in a poem of gratitude and joy and hope. Were there any 
in his day who, safe in a distant home, refused to take part in 
the labours and perils which attended the rebuilding of the 
Jewish state ? We suggest that the verse is introduced as a re- 
flection on those Jews who declined to leave their homes and 
occupations in Babylon and enter upon the hardships of a new 
life amid the ruins of Judea. Generally speaking the richer 
and more influential Judeans were very little disposed to return ; 
they left the enterprise to the poor and destitute'. It will be 
remembered that no Levites volunteered to accompany Ezra, 
and it was with some difficulty that he prevailed upon 38 to 
go with him (Ezra viii. 13 f.). There were in fact two Judean 
nations, one in Chaldea and one in Judea. So it is not surprising 
that our poet who had witnessed — perhaps had shared — the toils 
and dangers of the men who rebuilt the walls, when he thought 
of the wealthy Jews living in comfort and safety far away, they 
seemed to him Kke Reuben or like Grilead who abode beyond 
Jordan, in the days of Barak. And he expressed this feeling 
by quoting the sarcasm of the old song about these ancient 
wars to describe a similar attitude of aloofness in a national 
crisis in his own day. 

V. 14. At this point the thought of the Psalm changes and 
the next five verses (14-18) are devoted to the glories of Mount 
Sion, the goal of the recent procession, the mountain where God 
delights to dwell. But before dealing with this thought we must 
consider this obscure and difficult quotation, which has perhaps 
caused as much discussion as any verse in the Old Testament. 
Let us begin with Salmon, which we take to be the name of 
a definite locality (see Crit. Note). But what locality? In Jud. 
ix. 48 it is related that Abimelek and the people went up to 
" Mount Salmon " with axes to cut wood. This hill must have 
been close to Shechem, and it does not seem likely that a 
wooded slope of this kind would be thought of in connection 
with a snow-storm. It does not seem to suit our quotation, nor 

1 See Ewald, Gesch. v. 79. 


does Eusebius^ connect it with this passage. Modem opinion 
inclines rather to find our Salmon in the mighty mountain ranges 
of Bashan. "The mountains of the Hauran with their com- 
manding volcanic peaks Wetzstein finds alluded to in Ps. Ixviii. 
16 (15), where mention is made of the peaked mountains of Basan. 
The mountain of Salmon mentioned in the same Psalm, v. 15 (14), 
Wetzstein identified with the Batanean Mons Asalmonus of 
Ptolemy and similarly looks for this in the Hauran mountains^." 
Similarly Guthe* says: "The steppes of Hamad and the Druz 
mountains are the Salmmi of Ps. Ixviii. 14-15." If this view 
be correct our quotation relates not to Shechem but to some 
historical event connected with Bashan. We think it most 
probable that this rugged archaic fragment is taken from a 
poem relating to the original conquest of Bashan (Num. xxi. 
32-35 ; Deut. iii. 1-12) . This must have been an enterprise of 
great difficulty. To capture 60 foriified cities and to conquer 
in a mountainous region a vaHant race led by a gigantic king 
must have meant hard fighting with checks and reverses and 
anxious moments. We conjecture that our quotation comes from 
a song narrating some such period of anxiety, and that it recalls 
an aspiration or prayer that when Shaddai scatters hostile kings 
in battle a snow-storm sweeping down from the mountain peaks 
of Bashan may complete the destruction of the foe. It was a 
tradition of the Hauran that snow is reserved in (rod's treasures 
for the day of battle and war (Job xxxviii. 22, 23), and terrible 
falls of snow are recorded there*. The use of the Divine name 
" Shaddai " indicates a high antiquity for the quotation. And 
it will be remembered that three poems of the same period and 
dealing with wars immediately preceding the one in Bashan are 
preserved (Num. xxi. 14, 16, 27) ^ so there is no antecedent 
improbabihty in supposing that this quotation dates from the 
same heroic epoch and was included like the others in " The 
Book of Jahveh's wars" (Num. xxi. 14). These views would 
hold good if with Gesenius and Nowack the mountain Salmon 

1 " Salmon mons quern conscendet Abimelech adversus Sicima dimicans." 
Lagarde, Onomasticon, 153, 285 (the whole reference). 

- Buhl, Geographie des A. P. p. 118. 

3 In SchafiE-Herzog, Enc. art. Bashan. See Fischer and Gathe's noap of 

* DeUtzsch, Job, E. T. ii. 319. * Kittel, Gesch. 2nd ed. i. 489-90. 


were thought to be the mighty Hermon, "the mountain of snow" 
(see Crit. Note) — for the name of "Bashan" extended to the 
country at the foot of this mountain (Deut. iii. 8, xxxiii. 22) \ 
. It is now possible to understand why our poet included this 
obscure quotation in his work. He is about to enter on his com- 
parison of the giant basaltic mountains of Bashan with their 
snow-crowned peaks, and the small but beloved hill of Sion, 
and the thought of Bashan reminds him of the old national 
song about " the snow on Salmon " which, following his usual 
method of composition, he proceeds to embody in his poem. It 
probably meant more to him and his readers than it can mean 
to us. 

V. 15. This verse also is a quotation from an unknown source, 
possibly from the same poem as the last verse or from some 
other of the same period. It shows the admiration and awe 
which the Israelites felt when they first gazed on these mighty 
mountains of black basalt with their sharp conical peaks 
towering above the plain. But in v. 16 the Psalmist after he 
has quoted the old poem expresses a very different sentiment. 
Mighty is the mountain range of Bashan with its many lofty 
snow-crowned peaks, but it looks enviously on God's hill, Sion. 
This modest elevation with the rebuilt temple upon it is superior 
to the giant peaks of the Hauran or any other mountain any- 
where because God delights to dwell there. This recalls the 
sentiment of another Psalm, 

Jahveh loves the gates of Sion 
More than all the dwellings of Jacob, 

and that to be born a citizen of Sion is a more glorious fate 
than to belong to the greatest nations and the proudest cities 
on earth (Ps. Ixxxvii). 

V. 17. To complete his historical retrospect the poet delineates 
the progress of Grod from Sinai to the sanctuary on Sion where 
He delights to dwell. He treats it first as an invisible and mystic 
progress. As always his mode of presentment is influenced by 
literary recollections. Elisha's servant had seen a vision of horses 
and chariots surrounding the Prophet (2 Kings vi. 17). The 
" Blessing of Moses " spoke of Jeshurun's God " riding over the 
heavens," Deut. xxxiii. 26. Habakkuk in his poem wrote : 

^ G. A. Smith, Hastings' Diet. art. Bashan. 


Tbou didst ride upon thy hones, 

Thy chariots (were) deliverance (Hab. iiL 8). 

Such meditations culminated in a splendid vision of heavenly 
chariots, tens of thotcsands, tumultuotcs thmisands^ — an unearthly 
host forming the cortege and escort of the Lord in his triumphal 
progress from Sinai to take up his dwelling in the sanctuary on 

V. 18. But this mystic progress in the heavens had its corre- « 
lative on earth, and the poet now takes an instance from 
national history. This verse is a quotation from a song, probably 
of the time of David, relating to a triumphal entry of the Ark 
into Jerusalem after a successful campaign, followed by prisoners 
and spoil. We are disposed to think that this was the war with 
Syria and Ammon' (2 Sam. x.-xii.) as the Ark was certainly 
taken into the field in this war (2 Sam. xi. 11), the campaign 
was very successful, prisoners and spoil were taken (2 Sam. xii. 
26 f .), and when David and the army returned to Jerusalem the 
Ark must have been solemnly taken back to its tent on Sion 
(2 Sam. vi. 17). On this or some similar occasion this fine stanza 
may well have been sung. The allusion to rebels in this quota- 
tion suits very well this period of David's life, and it would 
appeal to the Psalmist, who had already (in v. 6) declared that 
rebels must abide in a thirsty land. The statement in this 
quotation that such people mtcst not dwell with Jah would agree 
with the policy of Nehemiah, who, as soon as he was in a position 
to do so, turned such disaffected men and traitors out of the city 
(Neh. xiii. 28), perhaps being strengthened in his purpose to do 
so by hearing this song. The two last verses probably owe 
their inclusion in the song to the impression which the recent 
procession had made on the poet. He found analogies to that 
glorious ceremony both in the mystic and heavenly progress of 
Jahveh to Sion and in the triumphant ascent of the Ark of his 
presence to the height. The progresses and processions all 
ended in Sion. 

With the entry of Grod into Sion this historical retrospect with 
its curious use of quotations comes to an end; and the poet now 
turns his attention to the circumstances of his own times. 

^ These words have an echo of '5?N niMT, Num. x. 36. 

^ Delitzsch considered the whole Psalm to relate to this war. Com. 445. 


vv. 19-23. Jahveh's goodness to His people and vengeance on 
His enemies. 

V. 19. The poet, recalling the terrible strain and the constant 
danger of the period when the walls were being built, thanks 
Grod for deliverance. There had been so many deliverances — 
from the Army of Samaria and its sinister chiefs — from traitors 
in the city — from the rapacity of moneylenders (Neh. v. 3, 4) — 
from plots against the Governor — even from false prophets (Neh. 
vi. 14). He bears our burdens, exclaims the poet, using the same 
word'^ as Nehemiah had used when describing the heavy toils 
of the workmen on the walls. And, with an emphasis which 
seems to come from personal experience of those terrible days 
when men were building with their weapons ready for use, he 
thankfully ascribes to Jahveh escapes from death. 

V. 21. It can only be from the Psalmist's intimate personal 
knowledge of perils sustained, and of the treacherous plots of 
the enemy, that the ferocious expressions of this cry for vengeance 
can be explained. In language partly borrowed from other 
poems ^ he declares 

God vdll smite the head of his enemies, 

The hairy skull of him who goes on in his trespasses. 

This latter phrase seems to mark an individual' and may well 
refer to Tobiah who, after the wall was finished and guarded, 
continued his plots and intrigues with many disaffected nobles 
of Judea to whom he was related by marriage (Neh. vi. 17, 
xiii. 6-8). It is an inviting conjecture, though it can be 
nothing more, that this Ammonite freedman may have been 
known by some sobriquet equivalent to " Shag-pate." 

V. 22. As has been already pointed out on an earlier page 
this verse is paraphrased from Am. ix. 3, with this difference, 
that the poet instead of Carmel substitutes Bashan, which had 
been recently the subject of his thoughts. Whether the enemies 
of God are hidden in the inaccessible heights of the volcanic 
peaks of Bashan or in the deepest parts of the ocean they will 
not be safe from His vengeance. It should be borne in mind 
that this passage is a poetic hyberbole and does not contain a 

1 n''bn?j;, Neh, iv. ll = D''ppj;, Neh. xiii. 15. 

2 ])&^' n^ap m'-\ IJlVnO, Hab. iii. 13. ynj^^, Num. xxiv. 17. 

3 Reuss {La Bible, v. 233) thinks that an individual is aimed at. Wellhausen 
(Forness, p. 191) thinks not. 


reference to any actual historical event. If the poet had meant 
to allude to a real occurrence he would hardly have borrowed 
for the purpose the mystic language of an ancient seer. 

V. 23. It is to be noted that the vengeance so savagely 
described in these verses is not thought of as being inflicted by 
the Judean community or by any human agency. It is God who 
will smite the enemy and His people will rejoice. This sentiment 
is the same as, but more clearly expressed in, another Psalm. 
The righteous man will rejoice because he has seen vengeance, 
He will wash his footsteps in the blood of the wicked (Ps. Iviii. 11). 

- w. 24-31. Ths procession and the hopes and visions it inspired. 

w. 24-27 contain the poet's description of a procession, which 
we have seen reasons for identifying with the one described in 
Neh. xii. 27 f. The account in the memoirs of the Governor 
naturally views the occasion from a sKghtly different point of 
view from that of the poet-spectator, who (as Briggs very well 
observes) only saw a part of the procession and describes what 
he saw. The main points, such as the double procession — its 
entry into the temple — the singers — the players on stringed 
instruments' — Benjamin — the princes of Judah — naturally 
appear in both accounts. But the keen eye of the poet, whose 
mind is filled with old national songs, has noted some points 
which the Governor did not think it worth while to mention in 
his oflScial record. Nehemiah does not explain in much detail 
how his praise-choirs were formed. The Psalmist notes the 
presence of girls playing timbrels. For this detail called up the 
memory of songs of old — Miriam and the girls with timbrels 
and dances singing the great song of deliverance (Ex. xv. 20) — 
the women with timbrels and dances who sang the heroic deeds 
of Saul and of David (1 Sam. xviii. 7) — and he notes the in_ 
teresting parallel. Some men from Northern tribes went by in 
the procession. The Governor, even if he knew of their presence, 
does not record a fact which must have seemed to him of slight 
importance. But the poet remembers how in the old song 
Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that scorned their lives 
Unto the death on the high places of the field (Jud. v. 18) 

and sets down the names in his poem. Nehemiah does not 

^ ^*?^? is a general word for players on any stringed instruments. See 
Is. xxxTiii. 20, Hab. iii. 19. 



tecord what song the pmise-choirs sang but the Psalmist gives 
it ^ or a part of it : 

In sacred assembliei bless God; 

(Bless) the Lord ye elect of Israel. 

What is meant here by " sacred assemblies " ? It has been 
thought that " choirs" are meant, but the word* has no relation 
to music. We think the allusion here as in Ps. xxvi. 12 is to 
"synagogues" (soA.Y.). " We may confidently place the origin 
of the synagogue in Palestine at the period of the Persian 
domination^." Indeed in Babylon, and in Jerusalem before the 
restored temple was built, they were a necessity if the people 
were to worship at all. It is generally assumed that the phrase 
"all the appointed places of God in the land*" found in a 
Pre-Maccabean Psalm (Ps. Ixxiv. 8) of uncertain date relates to 
such assemblies. If this be the true sense of the word the un- 
derlying thought of the verse seems to be "Not only three 
times a year in the Temple but every Sabbath in the Syna- 
gogue hless the Lord." 

V. 28. The Temple rebuilt, the wall and gates restored and 
guarded, heathens and heathenish practices driven out, the 
sacred law in force, what a series of blessings had been con- 
ferred on the Judean state ! The Psalmist now expresses his 
longing that this happy condition of things should continue on 
a firm basis. Confirm Lord what thou hast done for us. And 
this thought carries his mind into the future and recalls the 
glowing visions of Deut.-Isaiah, Haggai and Zechariah of the 
wealth of all nations flowing to the restored temple and the 
favoured city. 

V. 29. There could be no period when such visions seemed so 
real and so likely to be fulfilled as the date of this poem. They 
had indeed already received large fulfilment from the generosity 
of Persian kings. Cyrus had given the vessels which the 
Chaldean conqueror had taken away from the former temple 
(Ezra i. 7). Darius Hystaspis apparently contributed a regular 
allowance in money or kind towards the expenses of the Temple 
services (Ezra vi. 9). Artaxerxes had given to Ezra most liberal 

1 See Olshausen, Com., ad loc. ^ ri"l7npp, see D^pnpp, Pb, xxvi. 12. 

' W. Bacher in Hastings' Die. art. Synagogues. 

* PS5|l ^N-nirip-b. See a note in Cheyne, Psalms, i. 330. 



gifts both of money and precious vessels (Ezra vii. 15, 19, 21, 
viii. 24) and to Nehemiah a supply of timber without which the 
walls and gates could never have been built (Neh. ii. 8). With 
such examples of regal munificence before him, and the words 
of the prophets familiar to him, it was only natural for him to 
anticipate with confidence that other Icings would bring gifts, 
and that the present prosperity of the city would be maintained. 
The sentiment is not unlike that of another Psalm: 

Jerusalem is built as a city which is bound together [by its walls J. 

May there be peace within thy ramparts, 

Prosperity within thy palaces (Ps. cixii. 2, 6). 
V. 30. But there was a danger lest a war should break out 
between Egypt, aided by Greek mercenaries, and Persia, and 
disturb the prosperity of Judea. As has been already pointed 
out this was the danger which at this period was most to be 
feared by the Jews, and it was emphasised by recent experience. 
May no such war break out. Rebuke the wild beast of the reed, 
Egypt, under the figure of the behemoth or hippopotamus living 
in covert of reed and marsh' (Job xl. 21), and with him all other 
potentates and war-like chiefs. Let them abandon projects of 
war and continue to pay their tribute to the Great Eang, let 
them, thoroughly defeated in the late war, come grovelling with 
bars of silver. The last expression is curious but suitable to the 
manners of the time. Egypt had little coined money, their trade 
being done by barter. In the later war of Ochus the Egyptian 
king had much difficulty with the Greek auxiliaries who refused 
to receive their pay in ingots of gold or silver, and the ingots 
had to be coined into pieces of money to pay the Greek soldiers'. 
So no doubt the tribute due from Egypt to the Great King 
would be paid in crude silver ^ The peoples that delight in war 
would seem to mean the Athenian and Spartan soldiers and 
sailors of fortune* whose armies and fleets were at the service 
of the highest bidder, and who figured so prominently in the 
wars between Artaxerxes and the Egyptian king. If there was 
to be peace and prosperity for Judea there must be no more of 

1 K'!f3'l nji? inp?. * Maspero, Hitt. 4nc. m. 780. 

' As to the meaning of ^53"^>*!' see Ewald, DichUr, i. 2. 435. The tribute 
from Jehu to the Assyrian king was paid in bars of silver and gold (SchradeTi 
DU Keilim. u. d. A. T. 2nd ed. 208). See the plate in Maspero, Hi$t. Anc. in. 125. 

* See BeuBS, La Bible, v. 233. 


these wars, so the poet adds a prayer that these bands of 
adventurers may be scattered. 

V. 31. Very different from thoughts of war is the poet's 
vision of the future relation of the people of Egypt to Judea. 
It is a relation of conversion^, based upon prophetic utterances. 

" Jahveh shall make himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know 
Jahveh in that day, and shall serve with sacrifice and offering, and shall vow a 
vow to Jahveh and shall perform it " (Is. xix. 21). " The labour of Egypt and 
the earnings of Kush [Ethiopia] and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall pass 
over unto thee and become thine" (Is. xlv. 14). And from the rivers of 
Kush "shall a present be brought unto Jahveh Sabaoth from the people 
tall and polished, and from the people terrible ever since it arose, the 
strong strong nation and all subduing, whose land the rivers divide, to the 
place of the name of Jahveh Sabaoth, mount Sion" -(Is. xviii. 1, 7). 

"From beyond the rivers of Kush my suppliants, the daughter of my 
dispersed, shall bring my offering " (Zeph. iii. 10). 

Now that the city is restored the time seems to the Psalmist 
to have arrived for these glorious visions to be fulfilled. In 
haste will they come from Egypt, not armies to devastate and 
rob but proselytes to worship with gifts, and even from distant 
Ethiopia hands will be stretched forth to God. 

This aspiration shows the profound effect which the zeal of 
Ezra and the self-denying energy of Nehemiah were producing 
in Jerusalem. When Ezra first arrived in the city he found the 
people intermarried with heathens and tolerant of heathen 
practices. The Sabbath law was a dead letter, the sacrifices 
were not strictly performed, sacred dues were not paid, sorcery 
was practised (Ezra ix. 1, 2, 11; Neh. xiii. 10, 15; Mai. i. 8f., 
ii. 5, 10, iii. 5). How great a contrast from this state of syn- 
cretism and indifference is this desire that the heathen should 
be converted to the worship of Jahveh ! " Nehemiah succeeded 
in putting the work of which Ezra was the inspirer on a sure 
basis for the future, and in protecting the Jews from the un- 
cleanness of the heathen and from drifting back into heathen- 
ism^." Nothing could show more plainly than this Psalm how 
powerful was the influence of these great men, and how soon 
their attack upon the heathenish influences prevalent in Judea 
began to take effect. The Psalmist was not content with the 
wish that heathen kings should bring gifts to the temple. His 

1 See Cheyne, Isaiah, i. p. 297. * Wellhausen, Gesch. p. 179. 


longing was more spiritual, to see heathen peoples from far 
distant lands hastening to Jerusalem to worship the God of 
Israel. Such were the hopes and desires which the sight of the 
imposing procession aroused in a poet saturated as he was in 
the masterpieces, both lyric and prophetic, of the literature of 
his nation. 

Another view of v. 31 is possible, which would regard those 
who wore to come in haste from Egypt as members of Jewish 
communities settled there. There were two such communities. 

1. There was a settlement of Jews (with some alien admix- 
ture) at Jeb (Elephantine) at the first Cataract, opposite to 
Syene (Assouan). They were there under the Egyptian kings 
long before the invasion of Cambyses in B.C. 527. They had a 
temple of Iaho = Jahveh, and seem to have been faithful to 
their national religion and its sacred rites \ These were pro- 
bably "the remnant dwelling in the land of Egypt" (Jer. 
xxiv. 9), and "the dwellers in the land of Pathros" (Upper 
Egypt) referred to Jer. xliv. 1, 15. 

2. There were such elements as yet remained in Egypt of 
the great migration after the murder of Gedaliah (Jer. xliii. 
5, 7) who had settled at Migdol and Tachpanches (Daphne) 
near Pelusium, and at Noph (Memphis) (Jer. xliv. 1). 

The parallelism of Egypt and Kush in v. 31 however seems 
to negative any application of this verse to Jews, and it is 
easier to connect it with the aspirations of Deut.-Isaiah as to 
homage paid by the heathen nations to the Temple. " This 
hope of the conversion of other nations to the faith of God's 
elect was in an especial manner characteristic of the period of 
the return from the Babylonish captivity'*." 

vv. 32 — 35. Let all nations acknowledge the majesty of God. 

In this final burst of lyric enthusiasm the poet soars still 
higher. Not only Egypt and Kush but all Kingdoms of the 
earth are summoned to join in the chorus of praise. They are 
to form a great praise-choir to hymn God as riding upon the 
ancient heaven of heavens (Deut. xxxiii. 26, x. 14, v. 4 of this Ps.) 
and thundering with a mighty voice. But His majesty is over 
Israel. His glory is from His holy place. Mount Sion. It is all 

1 See Hoonaker, Schweich Lectures, 1914, passim; Kitt€l, Gesch. n. 627. 
Perowne, note on Ps. xxii. 27. 


shown in giviiig strength and all power to the people. He is 
Israel' 8 God. It is the song of restored Judah. The two returns 
from exile — the rebuilt temple — the fortified city — the favour 
shown by Persian kings — all are so wonderful that all Kingdoms 
should join in the song of grateful acknowledgement. The tiny 
state could never have effected these wonderful things — it is 
the work of Grod — Israel's God. Let the whole world sing, 

Blessed he God. 
No strain could rise higher than this — no nobler vision than 
this could fire the heart and inspire the song of a Jewish poet. 
This splendid chorus forms a fitting climax and conclusion to 
this great song, which has been very suitably designated " the 
Titan among the Psalms \" 

It has been pointed out above that a considerable part of the 
inspiration of this Psalm was derived from the great prophet of 
the Captivity. But there is one aspect of the latter's message 
which seems to have met with little or no response in this 
Psalmist. We mean the hope of a Messiah— and especially the 
wonderful conception of the suffering and redeeming Servant 
of Jahveh (Is. lii. 13-liii.). This Psalm of joy and triumph does 
not seem to contain any direct reference to the Messianic hope. 
It is possible that behind v. 21 there may be some trace of the 
conception of a conquering and avenging Saviour (as in Is. 
Ixiii. 1-7) but even this is very doubtful, while of the sublimer 
vision of the Sufferer we discern no trace at all. Absorbed as 
the Psalmist is by the happy events of the present, all his visions 
of the future are connected with Sion and its Temple — the glory 
and the riches and the peoples all are to flow to that centre. 
It would seem that the revival of ritual law which was the 
result of Ezra's reforming activity had already begun to lead 
to this centralising of Jewish thought around the sacred City 
and the sacred Temple — and that the more spiritual aspects of 
prophetic teaching tended to fade away from the thoughts of 
the people. In any case we do not find in this Psalm any con- 
scious allusion to the hope of a Messiah. It is true that S. Paul 
(Eph. iv. 8) does make a Messianic use of v, 18, but it is to be 
noted that neither the Heb. nor the LXX. text support the 
reading upon which his exegesis is based, and his very beautiful 
application of this passage rests not so much on the Psalm as 
^ Delitzsoh, Com. Isaiah, E.T. i. 332. 


on the Targiim (see orit. note). The exultation of the Psalmist 
was based on present deliverances and immediate blessings, his 
hopes were to be fulfilled in a near future, the dangers he f ear^ 
were from causes then existing. He did not — perhaps he could 
not — follow the prophet in his more distant and sublime spiritual 
visions. It was reserved for the wider knowledge and deeper 
spiritual insight of the Christian Church^ to discern in this song 
of deliverance a parable of another and a greater deliverance — 
and to apply it to the stupendous event which happened on the 
day of Pentecost. 

' The Syriac version heads the Psalm thus "David's, when Kings prepared 
to make war on his people — and a good prophecy about the dispensation of the 
Messiah and about the calling of the peoples to faith." 


1 God arises — His enemies are dispersing, 
They that hate Him are fleeing before Him. 

2 As smoke is driven away they shall be driven away, 
As wax is melted before a fire 

The wicked shall perish before God. 

3 But let the righteous rejoice, let them exult before God, 
Let them be glad with joy. 

4 Sing to God — strike the harp to His name, 

Cast up a highway for Him who rides through the deserts. 
His name is Jah ! and exult before Him. 

5 A father of fatheriess ones, and a judge of widows 
Is God in His holy habitation. 

6 God brings solitary ones to dwell in a home. 
He leads out prisoners into prosperity, 

But rebels dwell in a land of drought. 

7 " O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, 
When thou didst advance through the wilderness, 

8 Earth trembled — heavens also dropped water before God, 
Yonder Sinai (trembled) before God — Israel's God." 

9 A generous rain, O God, thou didst cause to drop on thine 

And when it was weary thou didst strengthen it. 

10 Thy community dwelt in it, 

Thou didst prepare in thy goodness for the afflicted, God. 

11 " The Lord gave the word. 

The women who brought good tidings were a mighty host. 

12 Kings of armies did flee — did flee. 

And the fair one at home divided spoil." 

13 " Did you lie among the sheepfolds ? 

The wings of a dove are covered with silver. 
And her feathers with yellow gold." 

14 " When Shaddai scatters kings in her 
May there be snow on Salmon." 

15 " A mighty mountain is the mountain of Bashan, 

A mountain with many peaks is the mountain of Bashan." 

16 Why do you gaze with envy, you mountains with many 

On the mountain where God delights to dwell ? 
Yes ! (where) Jahveh will abide for ever. 

17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands. 
Tumultuous thousands ! 

The Lord in their midst came from Sinai to the sanctuary. 


18 "Thon hast gone up to the height, thou hast led captives 

Thou hast received gifts among men. 
Yet rebels must not dwell with Jah Elohim." 

19 Blessed be the Lord every day. 

He, the Grod of our salvation, bears our burdens. 

20 The God who is to us a Grod of deliverances, 

And to Jahveh the Lord belong escapes from death. 

21 But God will smite the head of his enemies, 

The hairy skull of him who goes on in his trespasses. 

22 The Lord declared "From Bashan I will fetch (them) back, 
I will fetch (them) back from depths of the sea." 

23 So that thou shalt wash thy foot in blood; 
That the tongue of thy dogs may be red with it. 

24 Men saw thy processions, God, 

The processions of my God, my King, unto the sanctuary. 

25 Singers went first, then harpists 

In the midst of girls playing timbrels. 

26 " In sacred assemblies bless God. 
(Bless) the Lord ye elect of Israel." 

27 There (went) little Benjamin at the head. 
Princes of Judah and their festal throng, 
Princes of Zebulun, Princes of Naphtali. 

28 Command, O God, thy strength, 
Confirm, O God, what thou hast done for us. 

29 For the sake of thy Temple which is over Jerusalem 
To thee shall Kings bring gifts. 

30 Rebuke the wild beast of the reed. 

The company of bulls — lords of peoples ; 
Let them come grovelling with bars of silver; 
Scatter the peoples that delight in wars. 

31 In haste will men come from Egypt, 

Kush will quickly stret<;h forth her hand to God. 

32 Kingdoms of the earth sing to God. 
Strike the harp to the Lord. 

33 To Him who rides upon the ancient heaven of heavens, 
Lo He sends forth His voice, a mighty voice. 

34 Ascribe strength to God ; 

His majesty is over Israel, and His strength is in the clouds. 

35 Terrible is God from His holy place ; 
Israel's God ! 

He gives strength and aU power to the i)eople. 
Blessed be God. 


The Heb. variants are taken from Ginsburg, Afasora, Part I. Text 1894. 
The Greek from Swete's Septvagint. 

Jerome's Latin is quoted from Codex Amiatinus as given in Bihlia Saera 
Latina, Vet. Test. Heyse and Tischendorf, 1873. 

Aquils^ Symmaehiis and Theodotion (A. 2. 0.) from Field's Hexapla. 
*' Buhl " refers to his " Psalms " in Kittel's Biblia Hebraica. 

1. D-"lp^. This verb is not jussive in form, nor does it seem to be an 
ordinary imperfect used in a jussive sense, Ges. K. 107, 4, n. a.. It appears 
to express a plain statement of fact (Briggs, Cheyne). This being a re- 
miniscence of Num. I. 35 the word HD-lp would have been repeated had 
the jussive force been intended. When the author of this Psalm wrote 
1V^DJ-D-1p* instead of ^VajV-HD^p he must have intended to express a 
different idea. The earlier passage was an aspiration, the latter was an 
acknowledgement of present deliverance. It has been suggested (Hupfeld- 
Nowack) that the word may be an expression of hofe. No doubt this is a 
possible use of the jussive (see 1 Sam. i. 23, where the verb has however a 
jussive form). But it is not so suited to this place as the sense of grateful 

2. ^"^309. This is an impossible form. It may have arisen uncon- 
sciously out of assonance with the following *l''l3n, or it may have been 
coined as a mixed form offering a choice of two possibilities (like ^'^J? la. 
lix. 3, Lam. iv. 14, Qes. K. 51, k). ^IIIH? must be read. 

f^'njri without an object can hardly be correct. There is a Heb. variant 
here -IBIS^ which seems to be followed by Gr. e>cXt7rer<a(rai', Jer. deficiant, 
Pesh. . r) i->\ ^ A 1. This gains support from the parallelism with 113^* in 
the second line. Hitzig and Ewald would read ^13 51^ "Wellhausen ajid 
Duhm a second ^nSH, but neither of these is quite satisfactory. The Heb. 
variant seems to be the genuine reading. 

n3N^. Gr. prefix ovras. Jer. aVc=|9 which is in jwiy case implicit in 
the sense. It is not read by Pesh. 

3. Many Heb. copies have a vav before ^^(V^\ Gr. and Jer. have no vav 
before this word or before W^\ and thus impart a rugged vigour which 
seems original. 

4. ^DB' I". Buhl and others propose \0\sh with Pesh. but there is no 
need for any change. The word "IQI often takes a direct object. Pa. Ixvi. 
2 IDB'nias, Ps. ix. 3 10B', Ps. bci. 9 ib., Ps. vii. 18 H' OB*, etc. 


MO. This word has been considered unsuitable by Wellhausen, Cheyne 
and others but it is diflScult to see why. It is used Is. Ivii. 14, Iiii. 10, 
the noun n?pp Is. xL 3 and ^^?pp Is. xxxv. 8. In all these places thfc 
thought is that of making a road or causeway for a deliverer, and this 
sense is eminently approjMnate hare. 

nn"Tr3. Delitzach and Hitzig suggest a reference to the ^KICV so often 
mentioned in the early history (Num. xxii. 1, xxvi. 3, 63, Dt. xxxiv, 1, 8, 
Jos. xiii. 22, etc., cf. Is. xuv. 1). Probably however the expression is more 
general The text gives a quite satisfactory sense. The Gk. irrl bvcrfiwv 
aerans to have read ^^rs?, see PesL («^;VVr>\ Briggs is of opinion that 
the Gk. represents n\air?& (comp. Ps. civ. 3), which he and Cheyne read. 
But the text is better. The deliverances of Israel in the past and the 
especial one celebrated in this Ps. were wrought on earth. A progress in 
the heavens is described v. 33. 

\D^ rlJ3. The 2 is difl&cult. The passage is cut off from the preceding 
verbs by the two great siccents and is an independent statement. Delitzsch's 
suggestion that we have here Beth esseTitice hardly meets the case, Ges. K. 
119 i. n. 2, and the translation "In Jah is his name" (Speaker's Comm.) is 
scarcely intelligible. Jer. supports the text but Gk. Kvpios ovofia avra, 
Targ. n^DB' n^ and Pesh. m*^r\ m OOI Mr^ testify to a reading without 
the Beth. On the other hand 2. 8ia tov IA and E. 1 ev ra lA read the text. 
The solution seems to be that this is a quotation from Ex, xv. 4 IDC' nin* 
which forms there a complete half verse, and here is divided from what 
follows by R'bhia Mughrash. The author of this Ps. constantly quotes 
from the old poetry of his nation. It is not necessary to read H' ^nSB' 
(Cheyne), Wpb (Briggs) or any other proposed emendation. It is enough 
if the Beth be omitted. 

6. a^eno. There is a Heb. variant 3't?^. The text was read by Gr. 
KorotKt^et fjLovarpoirovs fv oiica), which is also read by 9. and E'., Jer. inhahi- 
tare fecit, and Pesh. *oZq^, A. KaOi^tu, 2. hibcairiv oiKfiv. The reading 
a'B'P is preferred by Olshausen, Duhm, Hupfeld-Nowack and Briggs, bufc 
is not 80 good as the other. The same collocation of words as the text is 
found in Ps. cxiii. 9 (Heb. and LXX.), and the prominent thought in both 
cases is that of solitary persons becoming members of a households-dwell- 
ing in a home. The idea of Is. Iviii. 7 0^3 X^QiTl quoted by Nowack is not 
quite the same. In a text written defective the variant 3*BTp might easily 

The meaning " solitary ones " for 0*"!^!: is assxired by Ps. xxv. 16. 

ni'TB'iS is objected to (Briggs, Cheyne) as an Aramaism. But why 
should an occasional Aramaism be thought strange in a post Captivity 
document? The verb TB'a is found Esth. viii. 5. The Gr. iv dvSpia, 
Jer. in foriitudine may weU be translations of the text, and Pesh. uses the 
Heb. word. 


"IN. Another Heb. reading is fjN followed by Gr. o/xoiwy, but it is not an 
improvement on the adversative sense which seems needed here. Jer. 

Dn"lip. For this word which is of frequent occurrence (Is. i. 23, xxx. 1, 
Jer. vi. 28, Hos. ix, 15) Briggs woxild read DmD, a form which we think is 
not actually extant. Gr. tovs wapairiKpaLvovTas seems to have read this, 
taking it as a ptcp. of TID, of which however no such form is extant. But 
the text gives a good sense and requires no amendment. 

nn^ny is akin to nnynV, is. Iviii. 11 and Q'n^ny, Neh. iv. 7, Kri. 
A. translates \eanfTpiavbe, 2. Kav<T<ovos ^tfporqra, Jer. siccitatihua. Ols- 
hausen compares Ps. Ixiii. 2. The Gr. iv rac^ois, Pesh. jj»r)*-^ rt A-i-Q 
seem to have read D^nnv, Jud, ix. 46, 49, 1 Sam. xiii. 6 (Buhl, see Driver, 
Samuel, 1st ed., 76 and n. 1). But considered as an antithesis to ITlTJ^ia the 
text is better as conveying a more general idea. 

8. *rp"nT. Buhl suggests V\ which occurs Est. v. 9 and which is im- 
plicit in the sense. This is very attractive, as otherwise there is no verb in 
this hemistich. No version however has any trace of such a reading. 
Gr. has tov Stvo, 2. rovrov tov Sivai, Jer. Deus hoc est in Sinai, Targ. 
'^D |n, Pesh. (curiously) ^kkJ-lICJ I'Q^ ]jcn. The words of the text 
are certainly a quotation from Jud. v. 5. It has been suggested (Moore, 
S.B.O.T. Judges, and see Ges. K. 136 d. n. I) that the words in Jud. are an 
ancient gloss, but, even if this be so, the author of this Ps. must have 
found them there and copied them, so that they form an authentic part of 
his text. 

9. fi^ppi. It is not proved that >/tl^3 has the meaning "sprinkle." Prov. 
vii. 17 does not seem to the writer sufficient to support this meaning. 
Hupfeld-Nowack, Duhm and others suggest ^^^fl. This word occurs in 
V. 8 and Jud. v. 4 bis and gives a good sense. 

The word "in?n3 is most easily joined to the first hemistich against the 
accents so that the verb has a double accusative (Ewald). The Ethnaich 
should be moved accordingly. 

nNpiV This word would be better pointed as a participle nSppi being a 
cams pendens, Ges. K. 116 w. If it be an impft. it would require vav 
before the following verb which Gr. and Pesh. have. 

10. ^n*n. There is much difficulty about the meaning of this word. H^PI 
generally means " wild animals " (so Ps. 1. 10, civ. 9 and v. 30 of this Ps.), 
and it is so taken here by Gr. to. (^Sid aov. Jer. animalia tua and Pesh. 
But this sense is not satisfactory here, we want something parallel to *3r. 
In 2 Sam. xxiii. 13 the word certainly means "a band of men." H^n 
D^nCJ^S, LXX. (TvoTefjia, and in 1 Sam. xviii. 18 ^*n is used in a similar 
way " my group, my father's clan." In Ps. Ixxiv. 19 the word occurs twice 
and seems to mean in the first occurrence "wild beasts" and in the 
second y2V riTl " the company of thine afflicted ones " (Perowne). This 


view of the force of the word, " thy community," is accepted by Ewald, 
Olshausen, Hupfeld-Nowack and Hitzig, but rejected by Delitzsch, Briggs 
and Cheyne. It is supported by 1^13 which refers back to in?ru, and it is 
surely the sense here. It would be a poor ground for rejoicing, that " wild 
beasts" should dwell in the inheritance which Glod of His boimty has 
prepared for the aflBicted. 

11. 'TDi<. There has been some doubt as to the force of this word. It 
has been taken to mean "promise" as Ps. Ixxvii. 9 and perhaps Hab, 
iii. 9 (Wellhausen), or "song of victory" (Hitzig, Olshausen). But it seems 
to be rather used in a military sense as "a word of command." See Job 
xxii. 28 ^ D5*1 ipbOTJn) "and if thou dost pronounce a command it 
will be established for thee." To this day " to give the word " is used in 
iim sense, as denoting the word of a military commander initiating a 
movement of troops. 

12. n.'S ny. This is very difficult. There would seem to have been a 
word n^ distinct from ni3, and this word had two distinct meanings. In 
Jer. vi. 2 it must mean "a beautiful woman," cognate to niX3. In Job 
viii. 6 it must mean "a dwelling," and in Zeph. ii. 6 in plural "dwellings," 
cognate to HIW. The first of these meanings is found in Gr. upaiorriTij 
A. itpaiorrjs, Jer. pulchritudo domus, Pesh. . .A > *->j rn.<7\n «. The other 
meaning seems to underlie 2. dlaira (see LXX., Job v. 24). Neither sense 
seems to make possible the rendering " the woman who remains at home." 
Delitzsch combines both meanings in the translation " Frauenzimmer " : 
identifying the "woman" and "the house" in a way not possible in 
English. As the meaning " dwelling " does not suit the passage we must 
translate " the fair one at home." Briggs proposes to read HIXJ (Cant ii 
14, etc.) which is quite a reasonable emendation but perhaps hardly 

13. D^riQC'. Wellhausen suggests that the first four words of this verse 
are a gloss from Jud. v. 16. It would be more correct to say that this 
verse was written under the influence of Jud. v. 16, but that only one of 
the four woi-ds is the same in both places. It is difficult to see why our 
author did not use the word D'RSB'P, Gren. xlix. 13, Jud. u.s. The form he 
uses clearly has the same meaning (see Ez. xL 43 referring to places for 
fastening sacrificial animals in the temple). It is curious that both words 
are in the dual and introduced by *3. The Gr. KXrjpav 2. ib. A. opiav, 
Jer. terminos need not imply any diflference in text. These words probably 
refer to the " lots " given to the tribes by Joshua {Ges. The*. 1470) which 
in the case of Reuben were pasture-lands with sheepfolds (see Num. xxxiL 
16, 24, Jos. liii. 23, LXX.). 

14. This is a most difficult verse and has caused much difference of 
opinion. The key to it seems to be that it is a quotation from some old 
poem not connected at all with Judges v. and otherwise unknown to us 


(see Introd.). Olshausen points out that n3 refers to some locality men- 
tioned in the old poem but meaningless in a detached line. So also we 
may explain the use of *'!l^ which in a Psalm of this period seems unlikely. 
It was used in the old poem as it was used Ruth i. 20, 21. 

Bn? has been objected to. It is used nine times in Piel (see Lowe, 
Zechariah, p. 26), and in seven of these places it means " to spread out " 
(hands or wings). But in Zech. ii. 10 (Heb.) the word certainly means 
" scatter " — and it should be so rendered here. The versions Gr. StaorA- 
\(iv, Jer. dividerit, and Pesh. support this meaning. 

37^ri, This is very difficult. The form is jussive and cannot have the 
force of narration. Nor does it stand in a position where the loss of a 
preceding vav consec. might be suspected, or a rhythmic shortening is 
likely. A careful examination of this passage has been made by Driver 
{Tenses, 3rd ed. §§ 170, 171, 174 obs.), and as the result he proposes to 
amend to i/^H. Delitzsch suggests that this is a case of the use of the 
jussive in conditional sentences as an expression of the consequences 
which will ensue if the event mentioned in the first member be assumed 
to happen {Ges. K. 109, 2, b). But this rule is not applicable to our 
passage. In the examples generally adduced (Ex. vii. 9, Job xxii. 28, etc.) 
the verb in the first member is jussive or imperative (" the hypothetical 
imperative" or "the double jussive," Driver, Tenses, § 152), which gives 
its force to the whole. The rule cannot be applied to a passage where the 
jussive follows an infinitive, thus reducing its jussive force to a simple 
past or future. The versions do not help, and conjecture has been tried. 
Wellhausen proposes doubtfully D7K^3n3, Duhm J^B'? and Lagarde (qu. 
by Cheyne) 2?B^n "IH^, that is, on Mount Hermon, which was called "Jin 
t<3?n (Targ. Cant. iv. 8, so Hupfeld-Nowack). The writer does not think 
any of these expedients necessary. The jussive force may be as clearly 
felt in this passage as in Pss. xi. 6, xii. 4. In Job xxxviii. 22 the snow 
and hail are viewed as stored up in the Divine treasures " reserved for the 
day of war and battle." Following this thought we may view this verse as 
6iXx aspiration, almost a prayer, and translate thus : 

When Shaddai scatters kings in her, 
May there be snow on Salmon ! 
coming from the treasures of God to complete the victory, like the hail, 
Josh. X. 11. 

I'lOpV. Some doubt has been felt as to whether this is a proper noun, or 
whether it does not rather mean "a shaded placa" The Talmud has "Do 
not read floWa, but niO^V?" (Berachoth, 15^ quoted Konig, Einleit. p. 33). 
The versions support the text except e. o-kw. Wellhausen, Cheyne and 
others propose n^D?V, but it is doubtful whether such a word existed. 
The place-name nabW occurs Num. xxxiii. 40. On the whole it seems 
likely that the ancient song would think of the snow as falling in some 


definite locality — and it will be best to retain the text and treat it as a 

15. J^5 bis. The Gr. had a different reading opos ir'vov in both places, 
Jer. pitiffuis, 2. €vrpo<t)Uis, all reading |?n. This reading is not suitable to 
the noun. A "fat" or "fruitful" mountain wotdd generally be a contra- 
diction in terms — especially when referring to "the mountain of bold 
peaks " mentioned in this verse. Possibly the first letter of the word was 
indistinct in the MS. which lay before the LXX. for they do not translate 
^2 by ir'iov in v. 22, although they do so in Ps. xiii. 13. It is somewhat 
ciirious that the Targum in v. 22 translates the word pm3 (Batanea — 
Bashan) but in this verse pno^ as if something different but stUl a proper 
noun were read. These variants cause some doubt, but the altematlTe 
reading is not attractive and there seems no need to alter the text. 

D'333J bis. This difficult word is generally xmderstood to mean "moun- 
tain peaks" (see Delitzsch, and G. A- Smith, ffist. Geog. p. 550). Gr. opos 
TfTvptifitvov seems to derive the word from '"13'?^ *s if the sense was "con- 
gealed." See Job x. 10 ^JKBpFl n3'3551. This sense is not unsuitable to 
volcanic mountains formed of congealed lava, but is not so appropriate 
and striking as "peaks — summits" to a mountain called D'n?X in. See 
Ex. iii. 1, Ps. xxxvL 7. Jer. exceUus supports the meaning "high- 

16. inyw. This word is generally explained from the Arabic, but in 
view of Ps. cxiv. 4, 6 it is rather tempting to read plgnFl (Cheyne), more 
especially as the latter word is used in reference to "mountains." But 
the versions support the text. Gr. viroXap^avere (see Job xxv. 3, LXX.), 
Jer. quare contenditU. As the text gives a sense smtable to the context 
and was so understood by the versions it is hardly safe to substitute a 
word fitjm another Psalm even if it is not unsxiitable, and, with some hesi- 
tation, we keep the text as it is. 

17. D^nST. This word can hardly be taken in a numerical sense, 
"twenty thousand," in elevated poetry. We must either take the dual 
here in a multiplicate sense like W'T\Z/ff v. 13 {Get. K. 80 f. 97 g) and 
translate "many myriads" or amend to nu?"! like Num. x. 36. Gr. 
pvpwnXaxTiov, Jer. innumerabUis, and Pesh. all have this more general 
sense of the word. 

|S33*. This is an impossible word as it cannot be derived from .J^iV. 
Delitzsch corrects to J'3B', but this word does not seem to exist. Jer. 
abundantium probably read the text, but the other versions differ from it 
and from each other. Gr. fvBijvovwav perhaps D'33N^ Ps. cxxiiL 4 which 
is not at all suitable, 2. (and A.?) rixoivrav ='\^ (Buhl, see Jer. xlviii. 45). 
Pesh. has ]Li«k»> probably referring to the Heavenly host, most likely a 
guess at the meaning of an obscure word. On the whole (i8<B' seems the 
[best, "tumiiltuons thousands." The verse is reminiscent of Num. x. 36, 


but here the chariots are heavenly (as Dt. xxxiii. 26, Hab. iii. 8), and the 
myriads of their occupants are the Heavenly hosts (Hupfeld-Nowack). 

tJ''lij>3 *3*p D3 *jhK. This passage cannot be translated so as to yield 
any sense. Delitzsch "ein Sinai ists in Heiligkeit" cannot be felt to be 
satisfactory. The versions simply translate the text without trying to 
make it mean anything. The phrase seems to come from Deut. xxxiii. 2 
H2 *3^PP nin^, and there is a Heb. variant *3^PP N3 njll^ which is gene- 
rally accepted. But this reading fails to connect the second hemistich 
with the first. Perowne suggests *3"*E)P N3 D3 *31K which may well be the 
original, each of the alternative Heb. readings having lost one of the two 
similar short words. We adopt this as the true reading. 

K'nb with the article means the holy temple, Ps. Ixiii. 3, Ixxiv. 3, Ixxvii. 
14, and v. 25 of this Psalm. 

18. Cl^JiS nisnp fini??- is there any trace of a Gk. variant in Eph. iv. 8, 
where S. Paul quotes these words eSaxtv doixara rots dvdpairois instead of 
LXX. eXa/3«p 8o/iiara f'p dvdpwTra 1 Apparently S. Paul was quoting from 
memory and was familiar with the Targum which reads JJriD lin? Knan' 
NK'J ^337 (Delitzsch). But, what is perhaps more important, the Pesh. 

agrees with the Targ. pretty closely ] » i " i *-^ \ ]AoonQSiD ASCTL*. 
Jer. agrees with Gr. accepiati dona in hominibus. The reading of Pesh. 
and Targ., though interesting, cannot claim to be original. The conqueror 
in his triumphal progress takes captives and receives gifts as a sign of 
submission. The variant would not be in harmony with the rest of the 

DHKa. This phrase meaning "among men" {Oes. K. 119 i) may be 
found Ps. Ixxviii. 66, Jer. xlix. 15, Mic. vii. 2. 

|3B>7 DH^ID CjXI. Gr. and Jer. support the text but Pesh. has a very 
interesting and important variant ]ctO^] iOjJD ^^n.VnXi |J ]jO'^ 'JS)]©. 
We think we have here the true reading. It is hardly conceivable that 
the Psalmist after saying that the rebels are to dwell in a thirsty land, 
V. 6, would insert just here the statement that Jahveh will dwell with 
rebels. The ? has in some way taken the place of N7. We propose to read 
^332^ N? (Wellhausen). |'3K't> K? (Duhm) is possible but not quite so good. 

19. -li^'DOy*. This verb is intransitive (see Gen. xliv. 13), and the ? is 
used in loose connection with the verbal idea, "in relation to" {Qes. K. 
119 w). "He bears the load in relation to us = our load." Jer. portahit 
nos Deus. Gr. KaBtvobaKrei, perhaps n3^"^^J*, as Prov. xv. 21. This is no 
better than the text, if as good. The text is supported by A. 2. /Saoraaci 
jj/iof . Hitzig translates tuill man helasten una but this does not suit the 
general meaning of the verse. 

22. nvVfSp. Gr. for O reads iv, probably a copyist's error for <»c, Jer. in. 

23. I'npJ?. This word gives no sense, although Jer. calcet attempts to 
translate it. It has evidently come in by mistake from v. 22. There is a 


Heb. variant yrnt^ which is followed by Gr. ^a(f>jif Pesh. ->> v^(^ .2., and 
is obviously right, Hitzig proposes ypnn which is not unsuitable but can- 
not be adopted in the face of such evidence. 

insp D'^^iKD. This is repeated by the versions, but it is simply impos- 
sible to construe this hemistich as it stands. It has been generally agreed 
(Perowne, Olshausen, Wellhausen, Duhm) to read injp "his portion," 
for in3D, but even with this change the sentence halts — it needs a verb 
and one conveying an idea parallel to |*m. In such a case we are com- 
pelled to resort to conjecture. Buhl suggests instead of D'3MND to insert 
DlKp (Ex. XXV, 4, Nah, ii. 4) which, not without hesitation, we adopt, 
retaining ^nSD in the text, 

25. DHB'. There is a Heb, variant D^T^' which is followed by Gr. Spxop- 
Tfs, Pesh, ]_i_O)05, but not Jer, cantatorei, 2. <o8oi This reading has 
little to recommend it This verse deals with the musical part of the 
procession. The princes appear v. 27. 

26. "Tlppp. It is difiBcult to attach any meaning to this expression and 
little help is derived from Is. xlviii, 1 (where the text is very doubtful) 
and Is. Ivii. 1, cited by Ewald, Perowne, 01shau.sen and Hupfeld-Nowack, 
The versions must have read the word in the plural *T!ipBP- Now there is 
a Heb. variant ^X"l'ppp, a word which is extant Is. xlviii. 12 and there as 
here connected with " Israel." This gives an excellent sense and suits the 
passage. The preposition D seems to have the sense of " namely" {Ges. K. 
119 w, note 1). We may omit this particle in rendering into English and 
translate "Ye elect of 18^161"= the devout Israelites who assembled in 

27. D^l. This is a real crux interpretum, Wellhausen pronoimces the 
expression unintelligible, and it really seems so. The verb HT) means "to 
rule," "to lord it," "to subdue," as Ps. ex. 2, and it could hardly be used 
to describe so mild an action as "to go first in a procession." Still Jer. 
contmerii eot, A. (TriKparav airav, 0. iraiSfVTris, E^. iraiBtvav ^ Sibda-Kay 
all seem to have read the text But the word HIT in its true meaning 
could never have been applied to the tribe of Benjamin after the days of 
Saul. And what does the suffix mean ? Ruling whom ? Gr. eV fKorda-tt 
(and perhaps Pesh.) took the word as from DTT, but this is equally diffi- 
cult. This word generally means " to be in a deep sleep." In two places 
it denotes (Dan. viii. 18, x. 9) "to be prostrate through overpowering 
emotion." Neither sense will suit this place. Buhl and others suggest 
D'^n^ from Dt. xxxiii. 12 where this word is appUed to Benjamin. This 
is very attractive in view of this Psalmist's habit of quoting old songs. 
But on the whole the best suggestion is W\p as in r. 25 (Hupfeld-Nowack, 
Duhm) which gives an absolutely good sense and only requires the altera- 
tion of one letter. 

Dnp^T- As to this word also we must agree with Wellhausen " imintel- 


ligible and probably corrupt." We cannot get any sense from VD3"1, as if 
"a heap of stones" was equivalent to "a heap of men." The versions are 
only guesses at the meaning and aflford no guidance. Could the true read- 
ing be DrJB'^T Ps. Ixiv. 3 ? The meaning of this word seems assured by 
Ps. Iv. 14 K^Jn? ^^n? D^n^K n»3? «We used to walk in a festal throng." 
We are not aware of any objection to this reading except that it is an 
Aramaism (Cheyne), and this is a very doubtful proposition. It would be 
well to prefix vav (from Pesh.) before this word. 

28. '^*ri'*?« n-JV. It is generally agreed that this should be read D^n'^N HjlV 
with Heb. var. and all the versions. 

29. ^?3np. Some critics (Perowne, Hupfeld-Nowack) would remove 
these words to the end of v. 29. This does not seem to be any improve- 
ment. The preposition O here is used in its frequent causative sense " be- 
cause of" (Cant. iii. 8, Est. v. 9, Oes. K. 119 z). The Temple is the reason 
why Kings should send gifts. As Ewald points out, the Temple is thought 
of as towering over (?!?, Gr. eVi) the city, both in fact and morally. So 
2. (finely) bih t6v vaov crov i-navut rrjs 'if p. This thought would be lost if 
the proposed change were made. 

30. y3I?3. This word though translated by the versions is very suspi- 
cious. We know of no place where DviJ? is used in this way, and the 
explanation of " calves of peoples " as denoting the " common people " as 
opposed to the magnates is not convincing. Buhl suggests vl?3 (cf. Is. 
xvi. 8 D*13 vy3) which is quite suitable. 

tlpD'*-!il3 DS"irip. This cannot be considered quite satisfactory. Who is 
the subject of the verb ? Should it not be in the plural ? The versions 
generally give no help, their text is not only very different but it is not 
intelligible. It has been proposed to read *V") "taking pleasure in" and 
this has been widely accepted. WeUhausen and Hupfeld-Nowack would 
also read Dginn thus adding another Imperative to lyj and translating 
"Tread down those who delight in silver." It is however doubtful whether 
the Hithpael can be used in this sense. The Kal of DE31 means "to trample 
on," Ez. xxxii. 2, but the Hithp, has rather the sense " to let oneself be 
trampled on " (Oes. K. 54 f.), " to grovel," as Pr. vl. 2. It is to be noted 
that all the versions read some verb in the plural, and a plur. seems 
wanted here. Perhaps the true reading is •IDS'in^, If (with Ewald) we 
take *-V"! as. meaning "bars" or "ingots," A. rpoxois, and translate "Let 
them come grovelling with bars of silver," this would agree with v. 18 
where the conqueror receives gifts, and v. 29, where Kings bring offerings. 

"VT2 must then be read "VT2l with Hebrew variant and all the versions. 

31. D'SP^n. This word only occurs elsewhere in proper names nJIDLJ'n 
Nmn. xxiiii. 29, |i02'n Jos. xv. 27. It is thought to mean " fat" = rich. 
The word is written with Samech in the Targura N''3DDiri. It has been 
suggested that this word appears again in the name Hasmoneans, the 


patrouymic of the Maccabees {Ges. Thes. p. 534, Ewald, Gesch. E. T. v. 
307 n. 1), but the reading in the text is very doubtful. The Gr. and Pesh. 
versions take the word to mean "ambaasadora." Probably this was a mere 
guess from the context and does not imply a variant reading. One might 
conjecture D'SDB'P, Is. x. 16, Ps. Ixxviii. 31, an easier word in the same 
sense. Duhm proposes D^JOB*? "mit Olen," which is most vmlikely; see 
Hos. xii. 1. A. o1<rov<riv ((rireva-fievws, Jer. oferantur velociter, suggest a 
reading D'2T1 (so Buhl, Briggs). The text may well have arisen out of a 
dittograph of the following '3D and the D in the next word. We think 
this reading D'K'n may be adopted. 

in* fnn. This seems an unusual and unlikely form of expression "Kush 
shall make her hands run to Grod." Yet as parallel to D'BT! it embodies 
the same idea of "haste." The noun should be singular with Gr. A., 2., 
Pesh. 3T (Buhl). The versions read the verb in the text, Gr. npo<f>6a(rfi 
Xftpa avTTJs, Jer. prceceniet manus ejus, Pesh. j^ j - « Vr>\ »/ It has 
been proposed (Delit2sch, Wellhausen, Hitzig, etc.) to read D'ln Gen. xiv. 
22, see Dan. xii. 7. But this does not suit the sense of the pa-ssage. To 
"lift up the hand to Cxod" means to take an oath (Spurrell, Notes on 
Genesis, 144, Driver, Genesis, 166), an idea quite foi-eign to the thought of 
this verse. The hand which Kush hastily sends out to Grod offers allegiance 
and gifts. Ewald very cleverly combines both readings in his translation, 
"dass Kush in eile seine Hand zu Gott erhebe." We retain the verb in the 

35. '^'C'^psp. Should this be singular or plural? Is the preposition 
right? There are two Heb. variants (a) 'fCnpsp, (6) IBnfjpp, Gr. iv rolf 
6<Tiois {a. dyiois) airrov, Jer. in Sanctis suis, Pesh. as the text, 2. ev ayuurfiart. 
On this evidence IKHpDD ((6) above) seems the best. Judah at this period 
had only one "sanctuary." 




We have reserved for separate treatment the jH-oposals of some editors 
to omit, without evidence and for purely subjective reasons, considerable 
portions of the text of this Psalm. The most extensive of these schemes that 
we have observed is that of Briggs {Int. Crit. Com. Psalms, 1907, li. 948qq.), 
who proposes to cut out a full fourth of the text either as " additions of an 
editor" or as "glosses." Let us take first the editorial additions. It is 
suggested that vv. 19 — 20, v. 29 and w, 31 — 35 are not part of the original 
song but were inserted by some hypothetical (and mythical) editor. No lin- 
guistic differences are pointed out which distinguish these verses from the 
rest of the text ; the excision of them rests entirely upon the taste of the 
present editor. 

What then is the reason for striking out vv. 19 — 20 ? Because they are 
not suitable to " a warlike Psalm." But our Psalm is not a warlike song. It is 
a song of joy for deliverance from peril. Apart from the historical allusions 
there is very little about war in it. Its central theme is a procession not a 
battle. It rejoices that danger is averted by Divine help, and prays that 
other perils may still be averted. But suppose it is a warlike song. What 
could be more characteristic of a soldier on service than carrying burdens 
and incurring perils of death ? What more appropriate thanks could a 
devout warrior offer to his God when the peril was past than this — that 
God had borne his burdens and given him escapes from death ? The 
thought of these verses is in complete harmony with vv. 1 — 4 : there has 
been deliverance and it has come from God. We fail to see any reason or 
any pretext for striking these beautiful verses out of the Psalm, and if our 
exposition of them above be accepted they are full of significance in its 

As regards the omission of vv. 29 and 31, such a proposal is contrary to 
well-known facts. It has been well recognised ever since the tjme of Ewald, 
and cannot be denied, that the author of this Psalm was influenced by the 
ideas of Deutero-Isaiah ; and this we have shown above in four separate 
passages. These verses belong to them. The ideas of the gifts of kings 
and the conversion of Egypt and Kush must have been suggested to the 
writer by the oracles of Deutero-Isaiah and Zephaniah. Now, if the author 
of the Psalm is shown to have been influenced by these oracles in other 
places, he is the most likely person to have been under a similar influence 
in these places also, and it is not scientific to invent an imaginary glossator, 
of whom we know nothing, and suggest that he inserted the verses. We 
know that the author of the Psalm lived in an atmosphere where the thought 


of the verses would be natural to hira. We know nothing of the postulated 
editor, not even that he ever existed. And it is very unlikely that these senti- 
ments of the Captivity-prophet would have been inserted into ihe poem as 
new thoughts long after 350 B.c. Such a theory is entirely unnecessary — 
there are no phenomena which call for it and no difficulties which it solves. 

As regards vv. 32 — 35 we can only express surprise that any expositor 
should suggest that this noble burst of song was not written by the author 
of the Psalm. Surely an author who wrote the fine opening of the Psalm 
was artist enough to provide an equally fine conclusion. No one can really 
think that this poem suddenly and abruptly ended with the words Scatter 
the peoples that delight in war. It must have had a final chorus. And we 
find it hard to realise how anyone can doubt that these verses are from 
the same h&nd a.s vv. 4 and 17. The joyous tone is the same as that of the 
rest of the Psalm as well as the style and the diction. The verbal simi- 
larities are numerous and striking — nOT D'n?K^ ITB* v. 4, lyi} ib., TV v. 28, 
^SIST' bx V. 8, Tina v. 19, jn* (of the voice) v. 11, BHpD see trip w. 17, 24. 
The thoughts are the same. Grod riding through the heavens, v. 17. His 
temple, w. 17, 24, 29. Giving strength to His people, w. 7, 19, 20, 28. 
Blessed be God, w. 19, 26, etc. And the whole of these verses like the 
rest of the Psalm are strongly influenced by Dent, xxxiii. 2, 26. We do 
not know what more can be adduced in proof of identity of authorship 
thau similarity of tone, of diction, of thought, of literary influence. And 
it will be observed that these verses do not introduce any strange or 
striking locutions or any thoughts foreign to the rest of the Psalm, as 
might have been expected if they came from a different hand. 

The result of the excision of ot;. 19 — 20, 29 and 31 — 35 is to strike out of 
the Psalm a great proportion of its joy, and we think that this result has 
(in all probability unconsciously) influenced Briggs in removing them from 
the text. Like Nowack and Reuss he thinks that the Psalm was the 
product of an age of misery and depression, and this view is not consistent 
with the happy and triumphant tone of these verses. This difficulty is 
avoided by regarding them as the interpolation of a later editor, only, if 
this effect is to be produced, vv. 26 and 28 ought to be struck out as well. 

Those, however, who (like the present writer) think that the Psalm is a 
song of thankfulness for deliverance and that the procession was an ex- 
pression of such thankfulness, and who ai-e able to indicate a period and 
an occasion to which such a song of joy was suitable, will not be likely to 
agree that most of the joyful parts of the poem are not original but inter- 
polated. Before they can acquiesce in such a conclusion they must expect 
to be shown the usual marks of interpolated passages, such as peculiarities 
of diction, change of point of view, differences of representation, inter- 
ruption of the sense. If these features are not present they will, in &ct 
they must, regard these verses as part of the original poem. 

We now turn to the suggestion that some words in admitted verses 


ought to be struck out of the text because they are " glosses " inserted by 
an editor. Now there is a class of glosses which there is very little diffi- 
culty in identifying, such as interrupt the sense and are obviously out of 
place. Very often they are marginal notes of a reader taken up into the 
text by an unintelligent copyist. Examples of such are Deut. x. 6, 7, 
Is. xxviii. 20, Jer. x. 11. But we have not observed among the passages 
thought by Briggs to be glosses any of this kind. The words proposed to 
be omitted run smoothly enough, they have been accepted as part of the 
text by many learned expositors, and the reasons for cutting them out 
must be reduced to the personal taste of the editor or his theory of inter- 
pretation ; they are subjective and peculiar to himself. It is obvious that 
this being so the subjectivity of other editors may well lead them to omit 
other passages, till there are as many texts conjecturally cut down in this 
way as there are editors. 

Let us proceed to examine some of the longer omissions. In v. 8 it is 
proposed to omit " Yonder Sinai before God — Israel's God," 

We have pointed out above that a very large part of w. 7 and 8 is copied 
verbally from Jud. v. 4 — 6, and the words quoted above are all to be found 
in Jud. V. 5. We think it a more reasonable view of the facts that the 
whole quotation was made by the poet, and we see no indication which 
compels us to assume that half of v. 8 was quoted by the poet and the 
other half by a (supposed) glossator. 

V. 13. A suggested gloss on this verse is discussed in the Critical Notes. 

It is suggested by Briggs that v. 17 is encumbered by glosses to such an 
extent that the original is lost among them. So he strikes out the greater 
part of the verse and gives as the genuine text 

&^p2 ^roo nnan n'\n'' 

" Jahveh, thou didst ride from Sinai into the sanctuary." 
Considering that this emendation is conjectural, and not dependent on 
evidence, it might have been more poetical. It is a poor tame verse and 
we shall be much surprised if any reader of taste thinks it an improve- 
ment on the text. The fine vision of the heavenly progress based on 
Num. X. 36, Deut. xxxiii. 2, Hab. iii. 8, etc., would dwindle away into a 
very dull prosaic thing if this suggestion were adopted, and there would 
be the curious phenomenon of a poor original improved by a glossator. 
This mutilated verse is simply out of the question, and can never hope to 
be accepted. The verse does require some critical treatment (see Critical 
Notes), but this does not involve spoiling it. 

In V. 24 it is proposed to omit as a gloss the words in the second hemi- 

"processions of my Gkxi my King." 

This cut would spoil the verse, which is a fine example of climatic parallel- 
ism or ascending rhythm, where the first line is itself incomplete and the 
second line takes up words from it and completes them (see Ps. xxix. 1, 8, 
Driver, Introd. 1st ed. 341, Cheyne, Isaiah i. 147). Here the first line 


names the procesiions and the second repeats the word and carries the 
thought on to completeness by adding into the sanctuart/. This beauty of 
Hebrew poetry is to be cut down to one dull line : 

"Men saw thy processions, God, into the sanctuary." 
The poet knew better than that, and we cannot doubt that we have the 
text as he wrote it. 

The cases we have considered are the longest portions of test proposed 
to be omitted as "glosses." "We do not think it needful to examine all the 
places where the supposed gloss only consists of a word or two. It will be 
enough to look at one as a specimen. 

In V. 10 b, " Thou didst prepare in Thy goodness for the afficted, 
Gkxi," it appears that "in Thy goodness" is a gloss. We appeal to anybody 
with any feeling for literature as to whether this omission is not some- 
thing lost from the beauty of the line. God, says the poet, prepares for 
the afflicted because it is His nature to be benevolent. The same word 
CinriiO) is found Ps. Ixv. 12 in a similar sense 

" Thou hast crowned the year of thy goodness^' 
There is no critical necessity to strike it out of this passage. 

Now these omissions, which suggest that in the Hebrew text of this 
poem there are 8 verses, nearly 4 half verses, and a number of odd words 
(out of 35 verses in all) which were not written by the poet, do not rest 
on any external evidence at all. No Hebrew MS. and no version omit any 
of them. We are asked to omit them from the text as spurious or obtru- 
sive in deference to the personal taste of the editor or in the interest of 
his scheme of interpretation. If (as we suspect) the latter is in many 
cases the reason for cutting out portions of the text, how can any confi- 
dence be felt in results so obtained ? " Interpretations which rest on 
extensive alterations of text are desperate expedients. The editors who 
adopt such a system have renounced the explanation of the poem and are 
explaining something else. It is not to be thought that such a system can 
ultimately give satisfaction or that an enduring exegesis can be built up 
on the shifting and insecure basis of subjective criticism "' (Cannon, Song 
of Songs, p. 140). It is the duty of an expositor to explain the text as he 
finds it and not to leave out large portions, and this is the reason why the 
older commentaries are often found by a student to be much more helpful 
than their modem successors. 



Those who are acquainted with the Latin of the Vulgate can hardly 
have failed to observe that the readings from Jerome cited in the notes 
above differ widely from the text with which they are familiar. The 
explanation of this discrepancy will appear from the history of the suc- 
cessive labours of Jerome on the translation of the Psalter. The Old Latin 
Version of the Bible had originally been made not from the Hebrew but 
from the LXX. (Scrivener, Introd. Grit. N.T. p. 349, ed. 3, Driver, Samuel, 
p. liv). This will be quite obvious to anyone examining the Old Latin 
text of Ps. Ixviii (in Sabatier ii. 130 sqq.). This version in Jerome's day 
seems to have been in a lamentable condition through an almost infinite 
variety of readings, "tot enim sunt exemplaria pene quot codices" (White, 
in Hastings' Diet. art. Vulgate, iv. 873). Jerome's first revision of the 
Psalter appears to have been inspired by Pope Damasus and is thus des- 
cribed by himself : "Psalterium Romae dudum positus emendarem et juxta 
LXX. interpretes licet cursim magna illud ex parte correxeram " (Praef. in 
lib. Psalm. 0pp. ed. Vallarsi, x. 106). It will be observed that in this 
revision no use was made of the Hebrew text. This first edition was 
known as the Roman Psalter, which is said to be still in use at St Peter's 
at Rome, and at Milan (White, u. s. 874 note). As time went on this 
version became as faulty as the Old Latin, " Quod quia rursum videtis, o 
Paula et Eustochium, scriptorum vitio depravatum plusque antiquum 
errorem quam novam emendationem valere " {0pp. x. 106). Jerome there- 
upon undertook a second revision, making use of Origen's critical signs 
and relying not only on the LXX. but also on the Greek version of Theo- 
dotion. This second edition is known as the Oallican Psalter, as it was 
early and widely known and used in Gaul. It is the version of the Psalter 
now currently in use in the Latin Church. But no one knew better than 
Jerome himself the unsatisfactory nature of these revisions. It was brought 
home to him in the course of controversies in which he or his friends be- 
came involved with Jewish opponents, "Quia igitur nuper cum Hebrseo 
disputans qusedam pro Domino Salvatore de Psalmis testimonia protulisti, 
volens ille te eludere per sermones pene singulos adserebat non ita haberi 
in Hebraeo ut tu de LXX. interpretibus opponebas, studiosissime postu- 
lasti ut post Aquilam Symmachum et Theodotionem novam editionem 
latino sermone transferrem" (Sophronio suo, 0pp. ix. 1155). And again, 
" Qui (Christus) scit me ob hoc in peregrinse linguae eruditioue sudasse ne 
Judaei de falsitate Scripturarum Ecclesiis ejus diutius insultarent " (Praef. 
in Isaiam, 0pp. ix. 686). In addition the continued diversity and corrup- 
tion of Greek editions called him to further labours : " Nunc vero cum pro 



varietate regionum diversa ferantur exemplaria et germana ilia antiqua 
translatio corrupta sit atque violata" (Praef. in Paralip. 0pp. ix. 1406). 
So Jerome decided to make a new translation of the Psalter from the 
Hebrew, and perhaps there was never anyone better qualified to do so. 
Not only had he by years of study acquired a thorough knowledge of 
Hebrew, but from his various Jewish teachers (see Driver, Samuel, p. Iv 
and notes) he had acquired the living Palestinian tradition of interpreta- 
tion, much of which is now lost to us. In addition he was able to make 
use of the help aflPorded by all the existing Greek translations. He has 
himself described his general method of translating the O.T. : " Nullius 
auctoritatem sequutus sxan sed de Hebraeo transferens magis me LXX. 
interpretum consuetudini cooptavi...interdum Aquilae quoque et Sym- 
machi et Theodotionis recordatus sum" (Praef. in Eccles. Ojyp. m. 381). 

Jerome's Latin Bible (including the Psalter translated from the Hebrew) 
is best represented by the celebrated Codex AmicUinut. This MS. was 
written in a British monastery, probably at Jarrow, and was sent to Rome 
as a gift to the Holy See by Abbot Ceolfrid (White, u. s. p. 878). In the 
9th century it was presented, under circimistances which are not quite 
clear, to the monastery of Monte Amiata in Tuscany by one Petrus Longo- 
bardorum its Abbot. On the suppression of the monastery in 1786 the 
MS. was deposited by order of Peter Leopold, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 
its present home in the Laurentian Library in Florence (Heyse and Tis- 
chendorf, Vulgate, proleg. p. vii). " For a recovery of Jerome's original 
text, ^ni. is of the first importance and any critical edition would have to 
be based upon it " (White, u. s. p. 884). 

The following examples will do something to illustrate the way in which 
Jerome's translation from the Heb. in Ps. Ixviii. differs from his Gallican 

GaUican foUowing Gk. 
4 Dominus nomen illi 
6 unius moris 

(O. L. unanimes) 
qui exasperant 
in sepulchris 

15 Coagulatus 

(0. L caseatum) 
17 laetantium 
19 prosperum iter facit nobis 

23 intingatur 
26 Principes 

J er. foUowing Heb. 
In Domino nomen ejus 



in siccitatibus 

(with A. and 2.) 

portavit nos 

(with A. and 2.) 

(with 2.) 


27 in mentis excessu Continens eos 

(0. L. in pavore) (with A. and 2.) 

30 ut excludant eos calcitrantium 

31 Veniunt legati offerantur velociter 

(with A.) 

32 psallite Deo omitted 
33' ad orientem a principio 

In other places the Gallican is followed against the Heb., e.g. 
13 Cleros terminos 

(with A. and 2.) 
16 pinguis (bis) pinguis (bis) 

Sometimes, but not often, Jer. follows neither Gallican nor Heb., e.g. 
9 dei Sinai Deus hoc est in Sinai 

12 dilecti dilecti fcederabantur 

When the revision of the Latin Bible was taken in hand by Pope 
Sixtus V (d. 1590) the version of the Psalter made by Jerome from the 
Heb. was not included, although Codex Amiatinus was sent to Rome to be 
examined by Card. Caraffa the editor (Heyse and Tisch. proleg. p. ix). 
The Gallican Psalter was too well known to be displaced in the affections 
of priests and people by a strange version. In the preface to the editio 
princeps of the Vulgate issued by Clement VIII in 1592 that Pope remarks : 
" In hac tamen pervulgata lectione sicut nonnuUa consulto mutata ita 
etiam alia quae mutanda videbantur consulto immutata relicta sunt, quod 
ita faciendum esse ad offensionem populorum vitandam Sanctus Hierony- 
mus non semel admonuit" (Heyse and Tisch. p. xxiv). So the Gallican 
Psalter has remained in the Vulgate to this day. It will be interesting to 
see whether, in the revision of the Vulgate now in progress, Jerome's 
version of the Psalter will at last come to its own. 



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